The Brazilian air force said that debris picked up Thursday near where officials believe Air France Flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean was not from the plane.
“It has been verified that the material did not belong to the plane,” Brig. Ramon Borges Cardoso told reporters in Recife, Brazil, about the material recovered Thursday. “It is a pallet of wood that is utilized for transport. It is used in planes, but on this flight to Paris, there was no wooden pallet.” He added that oil slicks seen on the ocean were not from the plane either and that the quantity of oil exceeded the amount the plane would have carried. “No material from the airplane was picked up,” he said. The announcement left open the question of whether other debris that had not yet been plucked from the ocean might be from the plane. On Wednesday, searchers recovered two debris fields and had identified the wreckage, including an airplane seat and an orange float as coming from Flight 447. Officials now say that none of the debris recovered comes from the missing plane. Watch as experts question whether recovery is possible » Helicopters had been lifting pieces from the water and dropping them on three naval vessels.
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Officials said searchers had found objects in a circular 5-kilometer (3-mile) area, including one object with a diameter of 7 meters (23 feet) and 10 other objects, some of which were metallic, Brazilian air force spokesman Jorge Amaral said. The debris was found about 650 kilometers (400 miles) northeast of the Fernando de Noronha Islands, an archipelago 355 kilometers (220 miles) off the northeast coast of Brazil. Map of Flight 447’s flight path » Earlier Thursday, a public interfaith service was held for the 228 victims at a Catholic church in Rio de Janeiro. “Whoever has faith, whoever believes in God, believes in the eternity of the soul,” said Mauro Chavez, whose friend lost a daughter on the flight. “This means everything.” Investigators have not determined what caused the plane to crash Monday. The flight data recorders have not been recovered, and the plane’s crew did not send any messages indicating problems before the plane disappeared. The aircraft’s computer system, however, relayed about four minutes of automated messages indicating a loss of cabin pressure and an electrical failure, officials have said. Investigators said the plane flew through lightning and turbulence, but they don’t know what role, if any, the weather might have played in the disaster. A report in France suggested the pilots may have been flying at the “wrong speed” for the violent thunderstorm they encountered early Monday before the Airbus A330’s systems failed. Le Monde newspaper reported that Airbus was sending a warning to operators of A330 jets with new advice on flying in storms. No one at Air France immediately responded to a call from CNN. Foul play has not been ruled out. A Spanish pilot reported seeing an “intense flash” in the locale where Flight 447 went down Monday, the Spanish carrier Air Comet told CNN on Thursday, confirming a report in the Spanish daily El Mundo. The co-pilot and a passenger on the flight between Lima, Peru, and Lisbon, Portugal, also said they saw a light. “Suddenly, we saw in the distance a strong and intense flash of white light, which followed a descending and vertical trajectory and which broke up in six seconds,” the unidentified captain wrote to his airline. Air Comet said a written copy of the pilot’s report has been sent to Air France, Airbus and the Spanish civil aviation authority. The Airbus A330 went down about three hours after beginning what was to have been an 11-hour flight. No survivors have been found. Most of the people on Flight 447 came from Brazil, France and Germany. The remaining victims were from 29 other countries, including three passengers from the United States.