Searchers found two passengers’ bodies and a briefcase containing an Air France Flight 447 ticket in the Atlantic Ocean near where the jetliner is believed to have crashed, a Brazil military official said.
The French agency investigating the disaster, meanwhile, said airspeed instruments were not replaced as the maker recommended before the plane disappeared in turbulent weather nearly a week ago during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with 228 people aboard.
All were killed, the world’s worst commercial air accident since 2001, and Air France’s deadliest plane crash.
The bodies of two male passengers were recovered Saturday morning about 45 miles south of where Air France Flight 447 emitted its last signals – roughly 400 miles northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands off Brazil’s northern coast.
Brazilian air force spokesman Colonel Jorge Amaral said an Air France ticket was found inside a leather briefcase.
“It was confirmed with Air France that the ticket number corresponds to a passenger on the flight,” he said.
Admiral Edison Lawrence said the bodies were being transported to the Fernando de Noronha islands for identification. A backpack with a laptop and a vaccination card also was recovered.
The finds could potentially establish a more precise search area for the crucial black box flight recorders that could tell investigators why the jet crashed.
Finding the flight data and voice recorders, however, is not the concern of the Brazilian searchers, who don’t have the deepwater submersibles needed to find the black boxes. Those are being provided by France.
“The black box is not the responsibility of this operation, the aim of which is the search for survivors, bodies and debris – in that sequence of priority,” said Air Force Colonel Henry Munhoz.
The discovery of the bodies and debris gave relief to some family members, many of whom gathered in a hotel in Rio, where they’ve received constant updates about the search.
Others, however, refused to give up on the chance for survivors.
“We’re shaken, but we still have hope,” Sonia Gagliano, whose grandson Lucas Gagliano was an air steward on the flight, told the O Globo newspaper.
“He was a young boy, just 23 years old, and he spoke eight languages. I’m in a complete daze with all this.”
Investigators have been searching a zone of several hundred square miles for debris. A blue plane seat with a serial number on it has been recovered, but officials were still trying to confirm with Air France that it was a seat belonging to Flight 477.