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Body recovered from Air France plane wreckage

By Thair Shaikh, CNN
  • Search teams retrieved a body from the wreckage of the Air France airbus
  • Flight recorders recovered and are being "dried"
  • Air France flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in June 2009, killing 228 people
  • It took nearly two years to locate the bulk of the wreckage

Paris (CNN) -- Search teams retrieved a body from the wreckage of the Air France airbus that crashed into the Atlantic in 2009, the French Interior Ministry said.

The body was still attached to a seat and "appeared degraded," the ministry added in a written statement.

"The attempts to bring up the bodies were made in particularly complex conditions. Considerable uncertainties still remain regarding the technical feasibility of recovering the bodies," the French Ministry statement said.

DNA samples from the remains -- recovered from a depth of 3900 meters (12,700 feet) - will be sent to a laboratory for analysis, the statement added.

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Thursday's announcement came days after the flight recorders were located.

All 228 people aboard the Airbus A330 Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris were killed on June 1, 2009. Until now, 50 bodies had been recovered on the surface after the crash.

However, some relatives of those who died have expressed reservations about remains being brought to the surface.

Last month Robert Soulas, head of a support group for families of flight victims, said: "For me, personally I would like to leave the bodies of my children, my two children, on the seabed."

Other relatives have called for the bodies to be recovered.

The Airbus A330's pilots lost contact with air traffic controllers while flying across an area of the Atlantic Ocean known for constant bands of severe turbulence, officials said. But exactly what caused the plane to plunge into the sea has remains a mystery.

France's Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA) said on Thursday that the external casings of both the flight recorders -- which record data and cockpit voices -- were in good condition and that they had started a "drying" process.

It would take a couple of days for the units to dry and then approximately a week or two before they could determine if both were still working, the BEA said.

Martine Del Bono, a spokeswoman for the Paris-based BEA said that even if there was some internal damage to the recorders, some data might still be recoverable.

"We must be very very careful... we are confident but it will take time for us to know whether we can retrieve all the data."

Phil Seymour, chief operating officer of the International Bureau of Aviation, a British aviation consultancy, said: "I remain skeptical about how useful this device (memory unit) will be. If you were to throw a computer into the ocean, imagine how all the parts would eventually split up. You also have the corrosive effects of seawater and the immense depths involved."