x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Air crash rescue teams deny rift

Brazilian and French officials deny a rift between their teams examining bodies from the jet that plunged into the Atlantic.

Brazilian and French officials have denied that a rift had opened between their teams examining bodies recovered from an Air France jet that plunged into the Atlantic, as the search for answers to the disaster continued. A spokesman for the regional security office in the north-east Brazilian city of Recife, where autopsies on 49 of the 50 bodies recovered so far were being carried out, said a lack of co-ordination over procedures seemed to have generated a misunderstanding.

Early yesterday, Paul-Louis Arslanian, the director of the Investigation and Analysis Bureau (BEA), the French body in charge of the technical side of the inquiry, told reporters in Paris he was "not happy" that a BEA medical expert had not been allowed to take part in the postmortem examinations carried out in Brazil. But the Recife security spokesman said the BEA expert had not been included on a French embassy list of four French investigators who had already been given "full access to the autopsy room".

He said: "Once we receive the documentation from the embassy, he will have full access to the investigations. But the local authorities hadn't received any notification about him." The security office issued a statement saying "the participation of any French official in the work being carried out in the morgue has to be secured through diplomatic channels". The office said French police officers had also been cleared for the administrative section which handled Brazil's reports into the disaster.

A Brazilian police spokesman and a French diplomat in Recife speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity confirmed that four French investigators had been accredited for the autopsies. "They are participating in the autopsy work as observers," the diplomat said. "There is very close co-operation with the Brazilian team. In truth, they are working together," he said. * AFP