Brazilian search planes have spotted metallic objects and aircraft seats in the Atlantic Ocean, some 35 hours after an Air France flight went missing.
It is an apparent breakthrough in the hunt for the remains of Flight 447 which disappeared in a storm with 228 people on board.
The debris was 650 kilometres from the islands of Fernando de Noronha off Brazil’s northern
coast. That is close to where final contact was made with the missing Airbus A330 as it headed from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. However, for now, Brazilian authorities remain cautious.
Jorge Amaral, a spokesman for Brazil’s Air Force, explained: “In legal terms, we can’t confirm that it is the Air France plane.”
He said debris would have to be removed from the water with the plane’s serial number and identification corresponding to the Air France aircraft.
Retrieving the wreckage may solve part of this mystery. But, for the full story of what went wrong, the plane’s black boxes must be found and that will be far from easy.
French Military spokesman Commander Christophe Prazuck pointed out that the underwater landscape in the zone is very steep, with water 4,000 metres deep.
An international search operation intensified after earlier reports from a commercial pilot of something apparently burning on the surface of the Ocean. While efforts now get underway to collect and identify the debris, any hope of survivors from this tragedy now seems lost.