BAYONNE, France – The remains of 104 people killed in a 2009 plane crash in the Atlantic Ocean were brought to France on Thursday for identification.
The remains were located by underwater robots at ocean depths of 3,900 meters in a dramatic discovery in April, nearly two years after the plane dived into the ocean. All 228 people aboard the plane were killed when it crashed en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
Bodies and wreckage from Air France Flight 447 arrived by ship at the Atlantic port of Bayonne Thursday under heavy police and military protection.
Three containers containing wreckage of the plane are being sent to the French city of Toulouse for analysis. The bodies are being sent to Paris for identification via DNA testing.
The examination of the bodies will begin Friday, including study of the victims teeth and DNA, and then the bodies will be returned to the families for eventual burial, the Paris police administration said in a statement.
Some of the families have said they didn't want their loved ones' bodies to be raised from the sea, but many are hoping to be able to bury them at last.
The exact cause of the crash remains unclear.
The plane's black box flight recorders were also recovered with the bodies. Based on initial information from the recorders, investigators say the pilots, confronted with faulty instrument readings and alarms going off in the cockpit, struggled to tame the aircraft as it went into an aerodynamic stall, rolled, and finally plunged 38,000 feet in just 3½ minutes.
A full investigators' report on the crash is expected in July.