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More bodies found from Air France crash

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Brazilian officials emphasize that finding bodies is their priority
  • Military says total number of bodies found stands at 24
  • Plane disappeared over Atlantic Ocean last week
  • U.S. to contribute high-tech devices to look for plane's emergency beacons
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RECIFE, Brazil (CNN) -- Eight more bodies have been recovered from last week's crash of an Air France jetliner in the Atlantic Ocean, bringing the total to 24, Brazil's military announced Monday.

Wreckage hauled in from the Atlantic over the weekend includes pieces of the aircraft's wing section.

Recovery efforts have found several items confirmed to have come from Air France Flight 447.

The bodies were found floating about 440 kilometers (273 miles) northeast of the Fernando de Noronha archipelago northeast of the Brazilian coast on Monday, military officials said Monday evening.

Air France 447 disappeared over the Atlantic early June 1. The jet was en route to Paris, France, from the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro with 228 passengers and crew aboard.

The military said earlier Monday that 16 bodies had been recovered.

Items found in the same area Saturday were confirmed to have come from the jet, including pieces of the aircraft's wing section, luggage and a leather briefcase containing an airplane ticket with a reservation code for the doomed flight, Brazilian air force spokesman Jorge Amaral said.

The exact location of the crash has not been determined, because ocean currents probably caused the bodies and debris to drift in the days since the crash. Two key pieces of evidence -- the flight data and cockpit voice recorders -- remain missing and could lie on the ocean floor. Map of Flight 447's flight path »

The part of the ocean where the debris and bodies have been found ranges from 6,000 to 8,000 meters (about 19,700 to 26,250 feet) deep. The search area covers 200,000 square kilometers (77,220 square miles), an area nearly as big as the country of Romania. Video Watch CNN's Karl Penhaul report on more bodies found »

Brazilian officials emphasized Monday that finding bodies was their priority. The French are in charge of finding the black boxes, and a submarine was en route as part of that mission.

Fourteen aircraft -- 12 Brazilian and two French -- were participating, along with five Brazilian ships and one French frigate. In Washington, a U.S. defense official said the U.S. Navy will contribute two high-tech acoustic devices to listen for emergency beacons still operating in deep water.

The "towed pinger locators," which help search for emergency beacons on downed aircraft to a maximum depth of 20,000 feet, will be placed aboard two French tugs that are part of the search efforts, the official said.

Recovery of bodies and debris is significant not only for families but also for crash investigators, said Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"Even if they don't find anything else, they can get some very important clues from the pieces that they do find and from the human remains," she said Saturday. Video Watch an explanation of what could have caused the crash »

She said investigators would be able to tell whether there was an explosion from possible residue on the bodies or other items. Or, if water is found in the lungs of victims, investigators would know that the plane went down intact, she said.

Investigators in Paris said Saturday that the Air France flight sent 24 automated error messages about four minutes before it crashed. The messages suggest the plane may have been flying too fast or too slow through severe thunderstorms it encountered before the crash, officials said.

Schiavo said four minutes "was a very long time" for automated signals to be sent from the plane.

Investigators also reported that the airline had failed to replace a part as recommended by the manufacturer, Airbus.

Airbus had advised airlines to update part of the equipment that monitors speed, known as pitot tubes. The recommendation was a result of technological developments and improvements, an Airbus spokesman said. The change was not mandatory, and the spokesman would not comment on Air France's failure to follow the advice.

CNN's Karl Penhaul, Richard Quest, Helena DeMoura and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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