PARIS (Reuters) - A French search team has lifted 75 bodies to the surface in recent days from the sunken wreckage of an Air France airliner which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil two years ago, killing everyone on board.
The search team probing the remains of Air France flight A447 painstakingly brought up two bodies from a depth of 3,900 meters (12,800 feet) in early May, both still strapped into airline seats, and took DNA samples from them.
Since then, the team has hauled up another 75 bodies and is still bringing up more, a Paris-based spokesman for the French military police force in charge of the operation said.
"Seventy-five bodies have been brought up but operations are still going on and we'll have to wait for the end of the search for a final figure," he said, on the second anniversary of the crash.
He did not give details on the condition of the bodies. The first two bodies recovered from the wreckage had been reasonably well preserved in the icy depths of the ocean but suffered some damage as they were raised from the seabed. Investigators are working to identify the victims and notify next of kin.
All 228 passengers and crew aboard the flight died when it plunged into the sea following its take-off from Rio de Janeiro on June 1, 2009. In the days after the crash, rescuers recovered about 50 bodies floating in the sea but the main wreckage was only found this year after extensive searches.
Data recovered from the flight recorders and released last week showed the aircraft plunged out of control for four minutes before crashing into the ocean, raising questions over the way crew handled what appeared to be a "stall alarm" emergency.
The black boxes, recovered last month, showed the pilot was absent from the cockpit, and a 32-year old junior pilot had pulled the plane's nose up as the aircraft became unstable, generating an audible stall warning.
(Reporting by Vicky Buffery; Editing by Catherine Bremer and Paul Taylor)