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'No more doubt' that wreckage is from doomed Air France jet

THREE more bodies were found yesterday in the ocean near where an Air France jet is believed to have crashed a week ago, bringing the total number of bodies plucked from the water to five, Brazil's military said.

Authorities said pilots searching the mid-Atlantic also spotted an undetermined number of additional bodies from the air and were sending ships to recover them.

Flight 447 disappeared in turbulent weather on May 31 during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with 228 people aboard - all now presumed dead.

The investigation is increasingly focused on whether external instruments may have iced over, confusing speed sensors and leading computers to set the plane's speed too fast or slow - a potentially deadly mistake.

The French agency investigating the disaster said airspeed instruments on the plane had not been replaced as the maker had recommended, but cautioned that it was too early to draw conclusions about what role that may have played in the crash.

The agency, BEA, said the plane received inconsistent airspeed readings from different instruments as it struggled in a massive thunderstorm.

It has not been confirmed how many more bodies have been spotted from the air but a spokesman said yesterday morning that they should be recovered within hours despite rainy weather and poor visibility.

None of the bodies recovered yesterday had documents with them to indicate their identities, and authorities did not specify their gender. The first two bodies, found on Saturday, were men.

The latest bodies were found about 70 kilometers from the site where the jet sent out a burst of messages indicating it was experiencing a series of electric failures and losing cabin pressure. All the bodies that have been recovered were found in the same general area.

Searchers had also seen two airplane seats and other debris with Air France's logo, and they have recovered jet wing fragments and other plane debris. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Munhoz, a spokesman for Brazil's Air Force, said there was "no more doubt" the wreckage was from Flight 447.

Hundreds of personal items have been recovered, but Munhoz said authorities would not immediately identify them because relatives of the victims panicked after authorities announced the discovery of a laptop computer and a briefcase with a plane ticket inside it on Saturday.

"We're don't want to cause them more suffering," Munhoz said.

Air France Flight 447 emitted its last signals roughly 640 kilometers northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands.

The Pentagon has said there were no signs of terrorism. Brazil's defense minister said the possibility was never considered. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner agreed there was no evidence supporting a "terrorism theory," but added: "We cannot discard that for now."


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