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Bayonne - The bodies of more than 100 victims from a Rio-Paris flight that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean two years ago arrived in France on Thursday, allowing experts to start the process of identifying them.
Search teams found wreckage from the Air France flight off the coast of Brazil earlier this year and painstakingly lifted 104 bodies from the seabed, where they had been preserved due to icy temperatures and high water pressure.
A boat carrying the bodies docked at the port of Bayonne, on the western coast of France, earlier on Thursday. The bodies will undergo autopsies and sampling at a medical facility in Paris to establish their identities, police said.
The process of identifying all the victims of the crash, which killed 228, is likely to take months.
Forensic experts will need to compile files on each victim containing medical, dental and DNA information from when they were alive. The data will then be compared to information gathered during the autopsies for identification. It took more than two months to identify the bodies of 50 crash victims that were found floating off the coast of Brazil in the days after the June 1, 2009, disaster.
Pieces of plane wreckage, also brought back to France, will be examined at a military hangar near the southern city of Toulouse as part of a probe into the causes of the crash.
Data retrieved from “black box” flight recorders this month showed that pilots wrestled with the plane's controls for four minutes before the Airbus A330 crashed into the sea off the coast of Brazil, killing everyone on board.
While the recordings have helped to clarify the circumstances of the crash, investigators have yet to offer a definitive explanation for why it happened or assigned blame to either the flight crew or the plane's machinery.
Police and magistrates in charge of an investigation into the causes crash will be present for the autopsies, a police spokesperson told reporters. - Reuters