Experts identify 11 bodies from Air France crash

MEDICAL examiners have identified the first 11 of 50 bodies recovered from the Air France flight that plunged into the Atlantic three weeks ago, officials said.

Five bodies were identified as Brazilian men, five as Brazilian women and one as a “foreigner of the male sex,” the Public Safety Department of the north-eastern state of Pernambuco said in a statement. It did not reveal the nationality of the non-Brazilian victim.

Dental records, fingerprints and DNA samples were used to identify the bodies, the statement said. Investigators are reviewing all remains, debris and baggage at a base set up in Recife, Pernambuco.

The families of the Brazilian victims and the embassy in Brazil representing the foreigner’s home country have been notified, but the identities will not be publicised in keeping with the families’ wishes, the statement said.

Air France Flight 447 fell into the ocean off the north-east coast of Brazil on the night of May 31, killing all 228 people aboard.

Thus far, 50 bodies have been retrieved.

Searchers from Brazil, France, the US and other countries are methodically scanning the surface and depths of the Atlantic for signs of the Airbus A330, which crashed after running into thunderstorms en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

Meanwhile, a Qantas plane hit turbulence and suddenly lost altitude over Malaysia, throwing terrified passengers around the cabin and leaving seven people injured, the airline said yesterday.

The Airbus A330 with 219 passengers and crew aboard was flying from Hong Kong to the Australian west coast city of Perth when it struck “severe turbulence” over Malaysian Borneo, Qantas said in a statement.

Passengers later described the panic and confusion in the darkened cabin as passengers not wearing seat belts were hurled from their seats.

“It appeared like we’d just dropped out of a 30-storey building,” uninjured passenger Keith Huxtable said. “It was dark ... people screamed.”

Passenger Michelle Knight, also not hurt, said the crew told her the plane had plunged 100 feet.

Six passengers and a crew member were treated on board for minor injuries, Qantas corporate affairs manager David Epstein said. The captain reported minor damage inside the cabin, Epstein told Fairfax Radio.

Australian government safety officials were investigating the incident.

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