Brazil court raises damage award for flight victim

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A Brazilian court has again rejected an appeal by Air France and raised the damage award the French airline company must pay to the family of a Brazilian victim of Flight 447.

The Air France jet went down on flight from Rio to Paris on June 1, 2009, killing all 288 people on board, the worst crash in Air France history.

The Rio State court told AFP that the court had unanimously rejected Air France's appeal and upped the compensation it must pay to 1.4 million reals ($868,000), up from the previous sum of 1.2 million reals ($744,000).

"The 11th Rio Tribunal on Wednesday unanimously rejected an appeal by Air France, and raised the amount of the damage award which had first been set in December," said a court spokesperson.

The airline is being sued by the family of Luciana Clarkson Seba, a 31-year-old Brazilian who died along with her husband and stepparents in the crash.

A spokesperson for the airline in Brazil had no comment, noting that the court case was ongoing.

The airline, through its insurers, had made compensation payments to the relatives of the passengers and crew, but continues to defend itself from litigation in Brazil.

Both Airbus and Air France are being probed for manslaughter by a French investigating magistrate. The crash has been partly blamed on malfunctioning speed sensors used by Airbus, with Air France accused of not responding quickly enough to reports that they might be faulty. The airline has denied the allegations.

French police said Thursday that an undersea recovery team had retrieved the first body from the depths of the wreckage, still attached to a seat in the aircraft.

The remains of some of the passengers were found floating in the ocean after the crash, but scores more are still missing. It is thought that some of the victims could be in the wreckage two-and-half miles (4 kilometers) below the surface.

Earlier this week, the two black box flight data recorders, which might provide clues as to why flight AF447 went down, were recovered.

Relatives for the victims have demanded that all the bodies be recovered from the wreck, but the police have warned that the deep-water operation faces "highly complex and unprecedented conditions."

The BEA, the French agency charged with investigating air accidents, will start trying to decipher the two black boxes in the next few days in Paris.

© 2011 AFP

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