Belfast Telegraph

Family’s anxious wait for news after airliner crash bodies are found

By Connla Young and Edel O'Connell

The family of a woman from Northern Ireland who died in a plane crash in the Atlantic almost two years ago are anxiously waiting to hear if her remains have been recovered.

Co Down woman Eithne Walls (28) was one of three Irish doctors who died when the Air France plane they were on crashed off the coast of Brazil in May 2009 killing all 228 passengers and crew on board.

The French government confirmed yesterday that the bodies of some of the passengers on board the doomed flight and pieces of wreckage have been recovered during a fresh search of the crash site.

Eithne’s grieving parents Raymond and Mary had no comment to make when contacted last night. The family’s parish priest, Father Anthony McHugh, said he was hoping for positive news but French authorities had not yet been in touch with the family.

The two other Irish people who died with Dr Walls in the plane crash were Dr Jane Deasy, from Rathgar, Co Dublin, and Dr Aisling Butler (26), from Roscrea in Co Tipperary.

The body of Dr Deasy was recovered during one of the search operations, although the bodies of Dr Butler and Dr Walls have not yet been found.

The three friends were returning from a holiday in Brazil when the aircraft went missing.

Dr Butler's father John, a well-known businessman originally from Co Limerick, said last night

that the family were too upset to talk and were “just doing their best to get through the day,” as they anxiously awaited news.

Searches have so far failed to find flight recorders that could give clues to the cause of the incident.

France's BEA air accident investigation authority said yesterday that it had found a large part of the plane's wreckage, including the engine and parts of the fuselage.

Robot submarines had found and photographed “a large section” of wreckage close to the aircraft's last known position, 700 miles north-east of Brazil.

The submarines were part of an elaborate salvage operation — said to be the most sophisticated ocean search of its kind ever attempted.

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