Correspondent Anita Elash reports on the latest in the investigation into the disappearance of an Air France airliner yesterday. 228 people were onboard. Brazil's Air Force says search planes discovered some debris floating in the Atlantic Ocean today, though it's not yet clear whether it's from the missing jet.
This text below is a phonetic transcript of a radio story broadcast by PRI's THE WORLD. It has been created on deadline by a contractor for PRI. The transcript is included here to facilitate internet searches for audio content. Please report any transcribing errors to email@example.com. This transcript may not be in its final form, and it may be updated. Please be aware that the authoritative record of material distributed by PRI's THE WORLD is the program audio.
ANNOUNCER: PRI's The World is supported by the Medtronic Foundation partnering with WomenHeart to reduce heart disease by training women to be community health advocates. More information about becoming a WomenHeart champion at medtronicfoundation.org and by IBM hosting a conversation about global issues facing our planet. Can we build a smarter planet? Details at ibm.com/think.
MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman and this is The World, a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH in Boston. Brazil's Air Force says surf planes spotted some debris floating in the Atlantic Ocean earlier today, and now an official in Brazil believes there's no doubt that the debris comes from the Air France passenger jet that's been missing since yesterday. The airliner disappeared on its way from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. There were 228 people on board. So far, there's no sign of any survivors. As Anita Elash reports, investigators still have a long way to go before they know what happened to Air France Flight 447.
ANITA ELASH: The odds were against search teams when the day began. Military planes were combing a vast area in the middle of the Atlantic. They were also struggling with bad weather and limited visibility. But then came word of a possible breakthrough.
BRAZILIAN AIR FORCE SPOKESMAN: [Speaking Portuguese.]
ELASH: A spokesman for the Brazilian Air Force said that this morning a military aircraft spotted some debris on the water, an orange buoy, an airplane seat, some small white pieces, a turbine, and oil and kerosene. Finding the debris could be an important step toward understanding what happened to Flight 447. Investigators hope it will help them locate the airline's black box recorders. The black boxes emit signals for about 30 days. A French military spokesman, Commander Christophe Prazuck, described the obstacles searchers now face.
CHRISTOPHE PRAZUCK: [Speaking French.]
ELASH: Prazuck said the search area is above and underwater mountain range as big as the Andes Mountain range. He said the underwater search would be very difficult because the landscape is steep and covered by more than two miles of water.
PRAZUCK: [Speaking French.]
ELASH: In Paris, relatives of some of the passengers gathered again today at a crisis center near Charles de Gaulle Airport. The Director of a French electrical materials company confirmed that ten of his employees and nine spouses were on the plane. Laurent Bouveres said the employees had been awarded trips to Brazil for being the best regional sales people. He said the company had set up its own crisis center to help the families.
LAURENT BOUVERES: [Speaking French.]
ELASH: He said the families are completely lost and that they're calling the center a lot because it's the only place they have to go. The French government said it will fly victims' families over the crash site once it's identified to help them mourn. Public memorial services are planned for tomorrow at Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral and the Paris Mosque. For The World, I'm Anita Elash in Paris.