Official Confirms Debris is Flight 447

Debris from missing Air France plane found in the ocean off Brazil's coast

ByABC News
June 2, 2009, 5:54 AM

June 2, 2009— -- Debris spotted in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this morning is from the missing Air France plane that disappeared Sunday, Brazil's defense minister said today.

From the water and from the air, teams are converging on the debris field, located some 400 miles from the Brazilian islands of Fernando de Noronha.

Ten planes from Brazil, three from France and one from the United States are hoping to soon gather clues about what caused the plane to disappear en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Four ships have also changed their routes to get close to the area of the sea where remnants, including what appeared to be airplane seats, were spotted about 630 miles northeast of Brazil's coast.

According to the Brazilian air force, there are no indications of survivors.

"Because of the way this airplane disappeared, we have very little evidence to start to put together what happened," said John Hansman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "So anything they can get from the debris field in the ocean is going to be important in terms of clues."

Watch "World News with Charles Gibson" TONIGHT at 6:30 p.m. ET for the full report.

The missing Airbus A330 had 228 people onboard when it departed Sunday night.

A U.S. maritime surveillance aircraft has been dispatched to Brazil from El Salvador to assist in the search, ABC News has been told. Tonight in France, French Transport Minister Jean-Louis Borloo also gave instructions for a search and exploration ship to be sent to the crash site.

The French ship is equipped with tools to help recover debris, including an underwater robots that can plunge about 20,000 feet underwater. It could be a few days before the ship arrives where the debris has been spotted.

What made the plane disappear is not clear, although it did enter an area with severe thunderstorm activity about the time it vanished.

ABC News has confirmed that two commercial planes flew virtually the same route as that taken by the Air France jet just before and after the missing flight.

A Lufthansa spokesman told ABC News he knew of one flight in the area at the time, but it is not clear if that plane encounterted any poor weather.

"This flight operated normally without any irregularities reported by the crew," Lufthansa said in a Tuesday statement.

Overnight word also came that a crew from TAM, Brazil's largest air carrier, saw orange spots on the ocean while flying over the same general area as the Air France Flight 447.

But crew on a French merchant ship nearby, the Douce France, said they found no trace of wreckage or survivors after searching the area, the Brazilian Air Force said today in a statement.

"If that was, in fact, debris burning from this aircraft, then that tells us that it broke up in flight," ABC News aviation consultant John Nance said today.