Two pieces of new evidence suggest that Air France Flight 447 broke up over a number of minutes, rather than in one catastrophic incident, before plunging into the Atlantic Ocean and killing all 228 people aboard.

Firstly, bodies from Flight 447 had been picked up from locations more than 50 miles apart, the Brazilian Air Force revealed.

And secondly, a re-analysis of the plane's last automatic transmissions indicated many parts had malfunctioned before it plunged into the Atlantic.

Manufacturer Airbus told customers the investigation re-enforced the belief that the parts measuring air speed were the first to fail.

The plane's three speed sensors, or Pitot tubes, are likely to have malfunctioned four hours into the flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, according to pilot union officials who examined the data.

However, Air France's chief executive said Thursday he is "not convinced" that faulty speed monitors caused the crash of Flight 447.

Meanwhile, two terror suspects who died alongside 226 other passengers on the stricken jet have been ruled out as a cause of the disaster.

The two men only "shared the same name" as known Islamic radicals, posthumous security checks found.

Although their bodies have yet to be recovered, France's Interior Ministry confirmed that a "deep and wide-ranging investigation has allowed us to clear them".

The announcement came as the urgent hunt for the flight's black boxes was boosted by the introduction of a French nuclear submarine.

Emeraude will trawl 13 square miles a day, using sonar to attempt to pick up the boxes' acoustic beacons before they begin fading in three weeks' time.

Brazilian searchers in charge of recovering floating bodies and debris say the surface search area has now widened into Senegalese waters.

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