Dispute over flight debris

Brazilian and French authorities disagreed yesterday over whether pieces of a downed Air France jet have been found in the Atlantic, as the mystery over the cause of the crash continued.

Brazilian officials have insisted for three days that military pilots have spotted wreckage from Flight 447 scattered across the ocean's surface. Air Force Brigadier General Ramon Cardoso again expressed confidence yesterday that at least some of the objects – an aircraft seat, a slick of kerosene and other items – are from the plane that vanished on Sunday with 228 people on board. "This is the material that we've seen that really was part of the plane," General Cardoso said. But the search has been hampered by poor visibility, and has recovered no wreckage. The only item retrieved so far, a cargo pallet, turned out to be sea garbage. French officials stopped short of disputing their Brazilian counterparts, but France's Transportation Minister Dominique Bussereau said his own country's searchers have found no signs of the plane. "French authorities have been saying for several days that we have to be extremely prudent," he said. He added that the priority is to find the flight voice and data recorders that could help explain the cause of the disaster. AP

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