20 Dec 2008

Airbus crash investigation continues

5:48 pm on 20 December 2008

Divers have now recovered the bodies of six of the seven people who died in the crash of an Air New Zealand plane off the coast of France last month.

An Airbus A320 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea near Perpignan at 4.46pm on 27 November (local time).

Those aboard were two German pilots, an official from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority and four Air New Zealand personnel.

A Radio New Zealand correspondent in Perpignan, Laurent Abadie, says the investigation will continue over Christmas.

The French authorities intend to bring parts of the cockpit out of the water and divers will be assisted by a robot working amid the wreckage, which is at a depth of 40 metres.

Mr Abadie says the extent of damage to the bodies is complicating their identification.

"They have found only parts of the bodies so it has been difficult. It's just like a kind of puzzle."

He says the plane's flight recorders have been sent to their manufacturer in Seattle in the United States, but it is not known whether it will be possible to retrieve the flight data.

The French prosecutor will formally identify the bodies on 13 January.