The families of three Irish doctors killed on the fatal Air France flight which crashed over the Atlantic are desperately awaiting news of whether any of the bodies pulled from the sea are those of their loved ones.
Rescuers have recovered 17 bodies along with plane wreckage from a remote part of the Atlantic where flight AF 447 came down last week, killing 228 people.
Last night, a spokesman for the Republic’s Department of Foreign Affairs said there was no indication yet as to whether any of the bodies recovered were the remains of Dr Aisling Butler (26) from Co Tipperary, Dr Jane Deasy (27) from Dublin or Dr Eithne Walls (29) from Co Down.
Officials from the Irish embassy in Brazilia are keeping in contact with the authorities that are investigating how the flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris went down.
The families of the Irish victims are also being offered consular assistance by the government.
A large crowd of mourners are expected at a special memorial mass for Dr Butler at St Cronan’s Church in Roscrea, Co Tipperary tonight.
She and her two friends graduated together from Trinity College in 2007 and had spent their last weeks holidaying with friends in Brazil before boarding the Air France plane on their return trip to Ireland.
There has been a massive out-pouring of emotion for the three young women here, with prayers being offered on a daily basis in Dr Butler’s home town of Roscrea, |according to local parish priest, Fr Tom Corbett.
“People are still genuinely shocked here. It all happened so suddenly and brutally,” he said. “There is a candle lighting in Aisling’s home and also here in the church for her and her two friends since we first heard of the news.”
Local Fine Gael councillor Denis Ryan said the recovery of the bodies was the “number one priority” of people in the area.
“There is only one issue on the minds and tongues of all here and that is all people care about at the moment. Everyone is thinking of Aisling’s family and praying for them,” he said.
Dental records and DNA evidence are expected to be used in the process of identifying the bodies.
The remains, along with the |recovered tail fin from the plane, are due to arrive today in Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago about 220 miles from the Brazilian coast.