French experts say they could start recovering bodies of victims of the Air France plane that crashed off Brazil within weeks.
The Airbus plunged into the Atlantic Ocean en route from Rio to Paris in June 2009, killing all 228 passengers and crew.
Teams using undersea robots finally located a large part of the wreckage on Sunday.
Jean-Paul Troadec, the Director of France’s BEA accident investigation authority, also said they are hopeful of finding the plane’s black box flight recorders.
“The recorders are located on the fuselage and we’re confident we can find the recorders — if they remained attached to the fuselage. In this case it will be quite easy to find the recorders and to recover them.”
The investigators said there are definitely bodies in the wreckage, although they did not say how many.
Relatives of the victims have reacted with mixed feelings.
The fiancee of one said: “It’s going to be painful when they take out the bodies because for nearly two years I was convinced that the bodies would remain under the water, that would be their fate. So this new phase, if they take out the bodies, it will be quite painful for the families, but perhaps it will also enable us to get through the mourning process quicker.”
Some of the bodies were recovered by the Brazilians at the time, but most still have not been found. France’s transport minister said victims’ families will be informed of their findings at another meeting at the end of the week but no further details would be revealed until then. A memorial for the victims has been built in Rio.
The investigators are now hoping that should they recover the aircraft’s black box flight recorders, they will still yield information after nearly two years in the sea.