Bodies of Irish lost in Air France crash will remain mummified at sea

Brazilian Navy sailors pick a piece of debris from Air France flight AF447 out of the Atlantic Ocean, some 745 miles (1,200 km) northeast of Recife.

A Paris judge has ruled that the remains of dozens of victims found two miles underwater following the Air France Flight AF447 crash must remain in their watery graves indefinitely. The court ruled that the dangers, that the bodies would degrade once they hit the surface, were too great.

Amongst the 228 people killed in the crash were three Irish doctors: "Riverdance" star Dr. Eithne Walls and her friends Dr. Jane Deasy and Dr. Aisling Butler.

The Airbus 330 crashed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean en route from Rio to Paris in June 2009.

Two of the bodies found, under over two miles of water, were still strapped into their seats when they were raised by unmanned mini-submarines, with cameras and robotic arms last week. However after two years of being mummified under freezing water and high pressure they began to disintegrate once they reached the surface.

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Judges Sylvie Zimmermann and Yann Daurelle have now written letters to the families of the victims which read: " To preserve their dignity and out of respect for the families who mourn them, the remains of those which are badly degraded will not be recovered.

"While tests are carried out on the two bodies which are already recovered to see if they can be identified, no others will be raised."

The judges also made it clear that those victims of the crash who have not been located could "rest in peace" in their "last home" wherever they may be. In all 51 bodies were found when the plane crashed.

Last month the two black box flight recorders were recovered from the plane and sent to Paris for analysis. The cause of the crash has not been determined. Preliminary enquiries partly blame faulty speed sensors which iced up during the flight.  Air France and Airbus have both been charged with manslaughter over the crash. The court case resulted in multi-million dollar compensation claims.

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