Brazil: Brazilian military pilots say they have spotted the wreckage of the missing Air France Flight 447 in the ocean about 400 miles northeast of the Brazilian coast. The debris is apparently scattered over five kilometres of open seas. The A330 aircraft, carrying 228 people, was enroute to Paris and vanished four hours after taking off from Rio de Janeiro.
"I can confirm that the five kilometers of debris are those of the Air France plane," defence minister Nelson Jobim informed a news conference in Rio. He also said no bodies had been found and that there was no sign of survivors.
Rescuers will now be a race against time to recover the crucial black box recorders, which emit signals for only 30 days. The aircraft went down in a part of the ocean where depths can reach up to 7,000 meters. Weather conditions are extremely difficult for the crash site is located near the equator. The area is known as the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) and is notorious for the massive storms that spring up here at this time of the year.
This is the zone where the northeast trade winds meet the southeast trade winds – the meeting place of the weather of the southern and northern hemispheres.
Recovery of the black boxes may take days or weeks, with the violent weather expected to impede recovery efforts almost on a daily basis.
It is certain that remotely controlled submersible craft will be deployed to recover wreckage and the black boxes, which would have settled deep within the surface of the ocean. France has already dispatched a research ship equipped with unmanned submarines which are capable of exploring depths up to 19,600 feet (6,000 meters).
Also joining recovery operations will be a US Navy P-3C Orion surveillance plane which has radar and sonar designed to track submarines underwater. It will be joined by a French AWACS aircraft.
Should no survivors be found then this would be the world's worst civil aviation disaster since the November 2001 crash of an American Airlines jetliner in New York City that killed 265 people.
As of now investigators have very little to guide them about the reasons for the crash as the crew sent no distress calls before the crash. The plane's system sent an automatic message just before it went off the radar screens, reporting lost cabin pressure and electrical failure.