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BOMB THREAT on Air France flight - May 27, 2009

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Author Topic: BOMB THREAT on Air France flight - May 27, 2009  (Read 252 times)
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« on: June 01, 2009, 07:49:32 pm »

                      Vast search of Atlantic Ocean for Air France jet with 228 people on board

Bradley Brooks and
Greg Keller,
Associated Press Writers
June 1, 2009

– An Air France jet with 228 people on a flight to Paris vanished over the Atlantic Ocean after flying into towering thunderstorms and sending an automated message that the electrical system had failed. A vast search began Monday, but all aboard were feared killed.

Military aircraft scrambled out to the center of the Atlantic, far from the coasts of Brazil and West Africa, and France sought U.S. satellite help to find the wreckage. The first military ship wasn't expected to reach the area where the plane disappeared until Wednesday.

If there are no survivors, it would be the world's worst aviation disaster since 2001.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the cause remains unclear and that "no hypothesis" is being excluded. Some experts dismissed speculation that lightning might have brought the plane down. But violent thunderheads reaching more than 50,000 feet high can pound planes with hail and high winds, causing structural damage if pilots can't maneuver around them.

Sarkozy said he told family members of passengers on Air France Flight 447 that prospects of finding survivors are "very small."

Brazil's president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, expressed hope that "the worst hasn't happened," and said "we have to ask God" to help find survivors.

The 4-year-old Airbus A330 left Rio Sunday night with 216 passengers and 12 crew members on board, said company spokeswoman Brigitte Barrand. Most of the passengers were Brazilian and French, but 32 nations in all were represented, including two Americans.

The plane was cruising normally at 35,000 feet (10,670 meters) and 522 mph (840 kph) just before it disappeared nearly four hours into the flight. No trouble was reported as the plane left radar contact, beyond Brazil's Fernando de Noronha archipelago, at 10:48 local time.

But just north of the equator, a line of towering thunderstorms loomed. Bands of extremely turbulent weather stretched across the Atlantic toward Africa, as they often do in the area this time of year.

The plane "crossed through a thunderous zone with strong turbulence," Air France said. About 14 minutes later, at 11:14 p.m. local time, 0214 GMT (10:14 p.m. EDT Sunday), an automatic message was sent reporting electrical system failure and a loss of cabin pressure. Air France said the message was the last it heard from Flight 447.

While what happened to the plane has not been determined, a Pentagon official said he'd seen no indication of terrorism or foul play. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the subject.

Chief Air France spokesman Francois Brousse said a lightning strike could have damaged the plane. Henry Margusity, a senior meteorologist for, noted that the thunderstorms towered up to 50,000 feet in the area, so it was possible that the plane flew directly into the most charged part of the storm.

Other experts doubted a bolt of lightning would be enough to bring the jet down. Some pointed to turbulence as a more dangerous factor.

"Lightning issues have been considered since the beginning of aviation. They were far more prevalent when aircraft operated at low altitudes. They are less common now since it's easier to avoid thunderstorms," said Bill Voss, president and CEO of Flight Safety Foundation, Alexandria, Va.

Voss said planes are built to dissipate electricity along the aircraft's skin, and are tested for resistance to big electromagnetic shocks.

The plane disappeared in an area of the mid-Atlantic ocean not covered by radar. Brazilian, African, Spanish and French air traffic controllers tried in vain to establish contact. The plane was gone.

Within two hours, two Brazilian Air Force planes began a search mission that grew Monday to seven aircraft and three navy ships. But with nothing more to go on than the last point where Flight 447 made contact — about 745 miles (1,200 kilometers) northeast of the coastal city of Natal — they faced an immense area of open ocean, with depths as much as 15,000 feet.
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« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2009, 07:53:10 pm »

A French search plane took off from a military base in Senegal on Monday, to be joined by two more from France, and the Navy was asked to send a craft to help as well, armed forces spokesman Cmdr. Christophe Prazuck said.

Asking for U.S. satellite help, Sarkozy said finding the plane "will be very difficult."

"(I met with) a mother who lost her son, a fiancee who lost her future husband. I told them the truth," he said at a grim news conference in Paris.

The 216 passengers included 126 men, 82 women, 7 children and a baby, Air France said. There were 61 French and 58 Brazilians; 30 other countries were represented, including two Americans.

In Brazil, sobbing relatives were flown to Rio de Janeiro, where Air France was assisting the families.

At the Charles de Gaulle airport north of Paris, family members declined to speak to reporters and were brought to a cordoned-off crisis center.

Some people just missed disaster. Bernardo Ciriaco said there were two Air France flights leaving Rio for Paris Sunday night — and his brother was on one of them. It was not until hours later that his brother, Gustavo, called from Paris to say that he had been bumped to the missing flight, but then talked his way onto the other one.

"Thank God he complained until he got back on the original flight. Our family is so relieved," Ciriaco said.

Air France said it expressed "its sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew members" aboard Flight 447.

Air France-KLM CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon said the pilot had 11,000 hours of flying experience, including 1,700 hours flying this aircraft.

Experts said the absence of a mayday call meant something happened very quickly.

"The conclusion to be drawn is that something catastrophic happened on board that has caused this airplane to ditch in a controlled or an uncontrolled fashion," Jane's Aviation analyst Chris Yates told The Associated Press. "Potentially it went down very quickly and so quickly that the pilot on board didn't have a chance to make that emergency call."

If all 228 people were killed, it would be the deadliest commercial airline disaster since Nov. 12, 2001, when an American Airlines jetliner crashed in the New York City borough of Queens during a flight to the Dominican Republic, killing 265 people.

Airbus spokeswoman Maggie Bergsma said it was the first fatal accident of a A330-200 since a test flight in 1994 went wrong, killing seven people in Toulouse.

The Airbus A330-200 is a twin-engine, long-haul, medium-capacity passenger jet that can hold up to 253 passengers. There are 341 in use worldwide, flying up to 7,760 miles (12,500 kilometers) a trip.



from Charles de Gaulle airport
in Roissy, France.

Associated Press reporters

Emma Vandore,
Laurent Lemel and
Laurent Pirot
in Paris;

Alan Clendenning
in Sao Paulo and

Marco Sibaja
in Brasilia;

Slobodan Lekic
in Brussels, Belgium;

Barry Hatton
in Lisbon and

Airlines and Transportation Editor

Greg Stec
in New York
also contributed to this report.
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« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2009, 07:58:39 pm »

                                        Timeline of disappearance of Air France jet

The Associated Press
– Mon Jun 1, 2009

• 7:03 p.m. Sunday:
Air France says plane left Rio de Janeiro.
Brazilian Air Force says plane left at 7:30 p.m.

• 10:30 p.m. Sunday:
Air France says plane has last contact with Brazil air traffic control.
Brazilian Air Force says last radio contact at 10:33 p.m., 351 miles (565 kilometers)
from northeastern Brazilian city of Natal.

• 10:48 p.m.:
Brazilian Air Force says last radar contact with Brazil indicated plane flying normally.

• 11 p.m. Sunday:
Air France says plane entered zone of storms and high turbulence.

• 11:14 p.m. Sunday:
Air France receives automatic message indicating electrical circuit malfunction.

• 11:20 p.m. Sunday:
Brazilian Air Force says plane fails to make previously scheduled radio contact with Brazil.
Brazil notifies air traffic control in Dakar, Senegal.

• 2-3 a.m Monday:
Air France says French military radar begins searching for plane.

• 2:30 a.m. Monday:
Brazilian Air Force says it mounts search and rescue mission with two planes.

• 4:30 am Monday:
Air France says it sets up crisis center.

• 6:15 a.m. Monday:
Plane's scheduled arrival in Paris, according to Air France.

• 8:30 a.m. Monday:
Brazilian Air Force says it was told by Air France about the message the plane sent to the company. The message indicated technical problems, including a loss of pressure and an electrical system failure, Brazilian Air Force says.

(This version CORRECTS time conversions on times provided by Air France )
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« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2009, 08:08:08 pm »

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« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2009, 08:10:08 pm »

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« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2009, 08:12:55 pm »

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« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2009, 08:24:50 pm »


                                                        Atlantic searched for lost plane

June 1, 2009
Most of the missing are Brazilians.

France and Brazil are searching waters deep in the Atlantic for an airliner carrying 228 passengers and crew which disappeared in a storm on Monday.

France believes there is little hope of finding survivors from among those aboard the Air France Airbus, which was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

An automatic report of a short circuit was the last communication it put out before vanishing over the ocean.

French officials believe it may been disabled by a storm.

Staff at Charles de Gaulle and Rio's Jobim international airport have been trying to help relatives and friends of the 228 missing people.

  "They [the search teams] are hoping they can find debris, pieces, lifejackets that eventually float"

Maria Celina Rodrigues
Brazilian consul in Paris

Most of the missing people are Brazilian or French but they include a total of 32 nationalities. Five Britons and three Irish citizens are among them.

If no survivors are found, it will be the worst loss of life involving an Air France plane in the firm's 75-year history.

French and US sources have ruled out terrorism as the cause of the plane's loss.
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« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2009, 08:34:38 pm »

US spy technology

Plane crews have narrowed their search to a zone of a few dozen nautical miles half-way between Brazil and west Africa, said Pierre-Henry Gourgeon, chief executive of Air France.

Flight AF 447 left Rio at 1900 local time (2200 GMT) on Sunday
Airbus A330-200 carrying 216 passengers and at least 12 crew

Contact lost 0130 GMT

Missed scheduled landing at 1110 local time (0910 GMT) in Paris
Timeline of Flight AF 447
 Air disasters timeline 

Their work may be aided by the Airbus's Argos beacons, which will emit signals for several days, he added.

A French reconnaissance plane based in Dakar, Senegal, was due to reach the suspected crash area on Monday evening.

It was to be followed by two other French planes based in Dakar, and a naval vessel currently cruising in the Gulf of Guinea, several days' sailing away. Spain and Senegal also despatched planes to help in the search.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed that his government was approaching Washington for help.

An unnamed aide to French Defence Minister Herve Morin told AFP news agency earlier that France had contacted the Pentagon to "obtain access to its satellite observation capability and listening stations which might just be able to supply us with some clues".

Brazil has sent out seven air force planes and three naval ships to help in the search, far off the north-eastern Brazilian coast.

"We want to try to reach the last point where the aircraft made contact, which is about 1,200km [745 miles] north-east of Natal [in Brazil]," said Brazilian air force spokesman Col Jorge Amaral.

An unnamed air force spokesman told AFP news agency the search was focusing on a remote area close to where the last radio contact with the plane was recorded.

"This zone is on the line between the jurisdiction of Brazilian air control and that of Dakar in Senegal," he added.

Maria Celina Rodrigues, the Brazilian consul in Paris, accepted that the depth of the ocean would make it difficult for searchers.

"They are hoping they can find debris, pieces, lifejackets that eventually float, but that takes some time and they are coordinating with weather services and with officials overseeing maritime currents to try and narrow down the area,"

she told the Associated Press.
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« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2009, 08:37:37 pm »

'She was on the plane'

The plane's automatic report was generated at 0214 GMT on Monday, about four hours after Flight AF 447 left Rio de Janeiro, and as it was heading through turbulence towards the west African coast.

Missing man Arthur Coakley’s wife, Patricia, and his business partner Ken Pearce
"A succession of a dozen technical messages" showed that "several electrical systems had broken down" which caused a "totally unprecedented situation in the plane", said Mr Gourgeon.

"It is probable that it was shortly after these messages that the impact in the Atlantic came," he told reporters at Charles de Gaulle airport, where the airliner had been due to land.

Flight AF 447 was flying at an altitude of 10,670m (35,000ft) shortly before it went missing.

A meteorologist who spoke to the Associated Press said tropical thunderstorms in the Atlantic could tower up to 15,240m (50,000ft).

"At the altitude it was flying, it's possible that the Air France plane flew directly into the most charged part of the storm - the top," said Henry Margusity, senior meteorologist for

French officials have stressed that the plane's captain was very experienced, clocking up more than 11,000 hours of flight.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy personally met relatives and friends of passengers at a crisis centre set up in Charles de Gaulle airport.

"I told them the truth," he said afterwards. "The prospects of finding survivors are very small."

At Rio's Jobim airport, shocked relatives were ushered into a closed lounge, away from the media and into the care of psychologists and doctors.

One woman, Vasti Ester van Sluijs, told AFP she had jumped into a taxi as soon as she heard news that the plane was missing.

"My daughter Adriana Francesca was on the plane," she said.
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« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2009, 06:24:23 am »

                                                 Bomb threat on Air France flight

Posted on
27 May 2009
at 16:27

Tags: air france, bomb threat, buenos aires, delayed flight, ezeiza, paris

The airport safety delayed an Air France flight this evening before departring for Paris immediately
after the company received a bomb threat over the phone at the airport of Ezeiza.

The Federal Police, along the Firemen’s direction and the Airport’s Safety proceeded to inspect the plane, that arrived this morning from the French city and, after a brief stop, it was preparing to return.

The routine procedure lasted approximately one hour and a half and, as sources of the airport reported all the passengers are ok and they were not evacuated.
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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2009, 07:04:34 am »

                                    Air France Bomb Threat Before Flight 447 Crash

June 03, 2009
Fox News

Just days before the mysterious crash of Air France Flight 447 in the Atlantic Ocean, Brazilian authorities reportedly delayed a similar Air France flight from Buenos Aires to Paris after the airline received a bomb threat over the phone.

Police and officials at Buenos Aires' Ezeiza Airport spent 90 minutes inspecting the threatened plane for explosives on the evening of May 27, but found nothing, according to a Brazilian news report.

During the search, passengers were not evacuated from the jet and later arrived safely at their destination in Paris.

A French accident investigator said Wednesday it's unclear whether the chief pilot of Flight 447 was at the controls when the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

The head of France's accident investigation agency also said he is "not optimistic" that rescuers will recover the plane's black boxes, which are probably miles underwater.

Pilots on long-haul flights often take turns at the controls to remain alert. Asked whether the chief pilot was in the cockpit when the plane went down, the chief investigator told a news conference in France that there was no confirmed information either way.

He noted, "We don't even know the exact time of the accident."

He also told reporters there were no indications of a problem with the plane before it left Rio de Janeiro on Sunday night en route to Paris.

Military planes and ships from Brazil and France homed in Wednesday on the bobbing wreckage of Flight 447, as investigators tried to determine what brought the plane and its 228 passengers down in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

The planes stepped up overflights 400 miles northeast of the Fernando de Noronha islands off Brazil's northern coast, where an airplane seat, a fuel slick and pieces of white debris were spotted Tuesday in the vast ocean.

Rescue boats from several nations were sailing toward the site to start the recovery.

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Air France Flight 447 vanished Sunday night about four hours into its flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. The reason for the crash remained unclear, with fierce thunderstorms, lightning or a catastrophic combination of causes as possible theories.

French accident investigators leading the investigation were holding a news conference later Wednesday.

"The nature of the debris, the concentration of the debris ... all combines to prove that the debris from Air France 447 has been found," French military spokesman Christophe Prazuck said Wednesday.

Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim told reporters in Rio that no bodies had been found and there was no signs of life.

If no survivors are found, it would be the deadliest crash in Air France's history, and the world's worst civil aviation disaster since the November 2001 crash of an American Airlines jetliner in the New York City borough of Queens that killed 265 people.

The floating debris is spread out in two areas about 35 miles apart, not far off the flight path of Flight 447, said Air Force spokesman Jorge Amaral.

In Paris on Wednesday, Prazuck said the French military was moving away from its sweeping aerial searches to "the next phase, the recovery of this debris, to be able to conduct the investigation and determine the probable zone of the accident, around which we must search for the black boxes."
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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2009, 07:06:06 am »

RAW DATA: The Airbus A330-200

The naval recovery operation will start on the surface, Prazuck said, then could turn to the use of submarines to help find the black boxes.

The effort is expected to be exceedingly challenging. Storm season is starting in the zone and low visibility hampered rescue efforts Tuesday. Water depths in the area sink down to 22,950 feet.

Gideon Ewers of the London-based International Federation of Air Line Pilots Association said bad weather and the plane's flight path could combine to spread the wreckage widely

"The aircraft was cruising at 35,000 feet," Ewers said. "Wreckage could have dispersed over a wide area of ocean and then drifted even further apart while sinking to the ocean floor a couple of miles down."

Remotely controlled submersible crafts will have to be used to recover wreckage settling so far beneath the ocean's surface. France dispatched a research ship equipped with unmanned submarines that can explore as deeply as 19,600 feet.

A U.S. Navy P-3C Orion surveillance plane — which can fly low over the ocean for 12 hours at a time and has radar and sonar designed to track submarines underwater — and a French AWACS radar plane were joining the operation.

The cause of the crash will not be known until the black boxes are recovered — which could take days or weeks. They are meant to last 30 days underwater.

Even at great underwater pressure, the black boxes "can survive indefinitely almost," said Bill Voss, president and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation in Alexandria, Virginia. "They're very rugged and sophisticated, virtually indestructible."

Weather and aviation experts are focusing on the possibility of a collision with a brutal storm that sent winds of 100 mph straight into the airliner's path.

Towering Atlantic storms are common this time of year near the equator — an area known as the intertropical convergence zone. But several veteran pilots said it was extremely unlikely that Flight 447's crew intended to punch through a killer storm.

Since thunderstorms can rise to more than 60,000 feet high, where passenger planes cannot climb over them, pilots will often weave left and right to find a route that avoids the worst of the weather.

"Nobody in their right mind would ever go through a thunderstorm," said Tim Meldahl, a captain for a major U.S. airline who has flown internationally for 26 years. "If they were trying to lace their way in and out of these things, they could have been caught by an updraft."

The crew made no distress call before the crash, but the plane's system sent an automatic message just before it disappeared, reporting lost cabin pressure and electrical failure.

Brazilian officials described a three-mile strip of wreckage. Jack Casey, an aviation safety consultant in Washington, D.C., and former accident investigator, said that it could indicate the Air France jetliner came apart before it hit the water.

On land, hundreds of relatives grieved deeply for those who were lost, a roster that included vacationers, business people, even an 11-year-old boy traveling alone back to school in England.

"We will miss your dancing feet," read a tribute from the Northern Ireland family of Eithne Walls, 29, a dancer-turned-doctor. "We will miss your silliness, your wit and your hugs. We will always hold you in our hearts and you are never truly gone."

The Associated Press
contributed to this report.,2933,524835,00.html
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« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2009, 07:48:10 am »

         Among the Victims on Air France Flight, Doctors, Dancers and Royalty Sign in to Recommend

Published: June 2, 2009
The New York Times

The passengers on the ill-fated Air France Flight 447 were from nations throughout Europe as well as from Africa, South America, Asia, the United States and Canada.

As hope dwindled on Tuesday for finding any survivors of Air France Flight 447, which disappeared over the Atlantic late Sunday night, information began to trickle out about the diverse group that had been traveling from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on the 11-hour flight. The airline has not yet released a list of passengers, but around the world, relatives and friends have begun to talk about those they now assume are lost.

One British victim, Alexander Bjoroy, an 11-year-old pupil at Clifton College preparatory school in Bristol, in southwest England, was returning to school after spending a half-term with his family in Brazil.

John Milne, the headmaster of Clifton, said in a statement it was “with deep regret” that he could confirm Alexander — a British passport holder — was a passenger on the doomed flight.

Eithne Walls, 29, was a young Irish doctor working in Dublin’s Eye and Ear Hospital. But before starting her medical studies she worked full-time as a dancer in the Riverdance troupe and continued to perform part-time during her six years at Trinity medical school. She joined the troupe in 1998, and went on to perform on Broadway as well as in France and China. She was also with the troupe when it performed its first show at the renowned Gaiety Theater in Dublin in 2004, said Merle Frimark, a spokeswoman for Riverdance North America.

“She still has hundreds of friends in Riverdance, and it’s all over the news in Ireland,” Ms. Frimark said in an interview. “I’ve gotten so many calls and skypes and text messages from different dancers. They’re all very upset because many of them in the show knew her so well.

“She was a lovely, lovely girl,” she added.

Dr. Walls had been traveling with two fellow doctors — Aisling Butler, 26, and Jane Deasy, 27 — to a reunion with other friends in Rio de Janeiro. They were returning from a two-week holiday, Ms. Frimark said.

John Butler told The Associated Press that his daughter, who celebrated her 26th birthday just over two weeks ago, was a keen doctor who enjoyed life to the fullest.

She was doing an internship in Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, and was to move onto St James’ Hospital in the city next month. “We know Aisling is gone, we are sure of that,” Mr. Butler said.

Prince Pedro Luis de Orleans e Braganca, 26, a member of Brazil’s now-defunct royal family and a descendant of Dom Pedro II, the nation’s last emperor, was on the plane, the royal family said in a statement to the press.

Two Americans on board were identified as Michael Harris, 60, a geologist living in Brazil and orginally from Greenville, S.C., and his wife, Anne Harris, 54, originally from Lafayette, La.

Mr. Harris, known as “Butch,” had worked in Houston with the international division of Devon Energy until last July, when he and his wife relocated to Rio de Janeiro to work in the small office there, a company spokesman, Chip Minty, said Tuesday. “Obviously, we’re shocked by the news, all of our employees are,” Mr. Minty said. Mr. Harris and his wife were flying to Paris for a vacation before he was to participate in a training seminar in Spain.

“They both were so full of life and took every opportunity that was handed to them,” said Charlstie Laytin, 31, the couple’s niece, who lives in Island Park, N.Y.

Nine salesmen and one executive from CGED, an electrical materials distributor from Limoges, France, were on the plane with their spouses after winning a four-day vacation to Brazil, according to Le Figaro newspaper.

The French tiremaker Michelin lost three executives, including two senior Brazilian managers and Christine Pieraerts, a young French engineer, the company announced.

Air France said 11 of the 12 crew members were French, but the airline did not release their names.

The flight captain, 58, joined Air France in 1988 and had 11,000 hours of flight hours including 1,700 on jets similar to the one that that disappeared. The two co-pilots were 37 and 32 and had over 9,000 flight hours between them.

The head of the cabin crew was 49, and his deputies were 54 and 46 years old, the airline said. Of the six flight attendants, who were between 24 and 44 years old, five were French and one was Brazilian.

Another of the Britons, Arthur Coakley, had been working on an oil rig in Brazil for four weeks and was only on the flight because previous departures had been changed, his wife Patricia told The Telegraph.

La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera reported that one of the Italians on board, a former mayor in the Trentino region, was one of three officials in a humanitarian delegation to Brazil that was inaugurating a swimming pool for children with disabilities.

The airline said victims included

2 Americans,

an Argentine,

an Austrian,

a Belgian,

58 Brazilians,

5 Britons,

a Canadian,

9 Chinese,

a Croatian,

a Dane,

a Dutch citizen,

an Estonian,

a Filipino,

61 French citizens,

a Gambian,

26 Germans,

4 Hungarians,

3 Irish,

an Icelander,

10 Italians,

5 Lebanese,

2 Moroccans,

3 Norwegians,

2 Poles,

a Romanian,

a Russian,

3 Slovakians,

2 Spaniards,

a Swede,

6 Swiss and

a Turk.

Liz Robbins
contributed reporting.
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