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An Air France Airbus A330-200 airliner (archive image)

The Airbus, like this one pictured, was flying from Rio to Paris

Brazilian aircraft searching for an Air France jet which went missing with 228 people aboard in an Atlantic storm have spotted debris on the ocean.

Plane seats and other items were sighted 650km (400 miles) north-east of Brazil’s Fernando do Noronha island, the Brazilian air force said.

It could not be immediately confirmed that the debris came from the Airbus.

The jet was heading from Brazil to Paris when it vanished about four hours into its flight, early on Monday.


Air Force spokesman Jorge Amaral said the seats had been spotted by search planes early on Tuesday.

Also spotted were small white pieces of debris, material that may be metallic and signs of oil and kerosene, which is used as jet fuel.

“The search is continuing because it’s very little material in relation to the size [of the Airbus A330],” Mr Amaral added.

Officials, he said, needed “a piece that might have a serial number, some sort of identification” to be sure it came from the missing jet.

French Defence Minister Herve Morin has stressed there is still “no evidence whatsoever” as to the cause of the plane’s loss

“We cannot, by definition, exclude a terrorist attack, because terrorism is the main threat for all Western democracies,” he added.


Plane crews from Brazil, France and other countries had narrowed their search to a zone half-way between Brazil and west Africa, hoping to pick up signals from the Airbus’s Argos beacons.

In his last radio message, at about 0200 GMT on Monday, the captain of Flight AF 447 reported entering turbulence, French media say.

Up to a dozen reports of electrical failures were sent automatically from the plane before it vanished over the ocean just after.

Most of the missing people are Brazilian or French but they include a total of 32 nationalities. Five Britons and three Irish citizens are among them.


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Most of the passengers on board the Air France plane which has disappeared over the Atlantic were Brazilians and French nationals, airline officials said. Air France confirmed 61 French and 58 Brazilian passengers were among the 216 passengers on board flight 447. A list provided by Brazil’s authorities showed 26 Germans were also on board as well as nine Chinese and nine Italians. Six Swiss, five British, five Lebanese and four Hungarians were on the flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Those on board also included three Irish, three Norwegians, three Slovaks, two Americans two Moroccans, as well as individuals from Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Estonia, the Philippines, The Gambia, Iceland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Sweden and Turkey. Eleven of the 12 crew members are reported to be French nationals and the other Brazilian. Phone line “Air France expresses its deepest sympathy to the relatives and friends of the passengers and crew who were on board this flight,” the airline said in a statement on its website. It said it was doing its utmost to support relatives and friends, and had set up counselling services at both the French and Brazilian airports. A special phone line has been set up for relatives and friends. In France, the number is 0800 800 812. In Brazil, the number is 0800 881 20 20 and for those in other countries the number is 0033 1 57 02 10 55. A direct descendant of the last emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II, was on board the plane, a spokesman for the former royal family said. He was named as Prince Pedro Luis de Orleans e Braganca, aged 26. The Michelin tyre company earlier said three of its executives were on the flight, including the president of its South American operations, Luiz Roberto Anastacio. It is also believed that Erich Heine, an executive board member at the German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp, was on board. He is also the chairman of the company’s Brazilian unit – Companhia Siderurgica do Atlantico – a joint venture between ThyssenKrupp and a Brazilian mining company. The mayor of Rio de Janeiro’s cabinet chief, Marcelo Parente, was also said to be on board, as well as the former head of the Rio municipal theatre’s symphony orchestra, Silvio Barb


An Air France plane with 228 people on board disappeared over the Atlantic on Monday after suffering multiple breakdowns in a fierce electrical storm on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

Spotter planes were despatched in a bid to locate the jet in a vast area of ocean between Brazil and Africa but officials said there was little hope of survivors from what appears to be the worst air accident in over a decade.

“The prospects of finding any survivors are very slim,” a grim-faced French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after talking to stunned relatives of missing passengers. “It’s a catastrophe the likes of which Air France has never seen.”

Although the exact cause of the crash remained a mystery, Air France’s chief executive said the Airbus A330 had sent a series of error messages shortly after crossing an area of major turbulence.

“A succession of a dozen technical messages” sent by the aircraft around 0215 GMT showed that “several electrical systems had broken down” which caused a “totally unprecedented situation in the plane,” said Pierre-Henry Gourgeon.

“It is probable that it was shortly after these messages that the impact in the Atlantic came,” he told reporters at Charles de Gaulle airport where the flight was meant to have landed on Monday morning.

Airline officials had earlier said the plane was probably hit by lightning, but Gourgeon declined to make a direct link between weather conditions and the error messages.

If it is confirmed that all 228 people on Flight AF 447 are dead, it would mark the worst loss of life in Air France’s history and civil aviation’s worst accident for more than a decade.

The Brazilian, Spanish and French air forces sent out search planes to scour a vast area of ocean between Brazil and Africa. Paris also asked Washington to use its spy satellites and listening posts to help.

At Charles de Gaulle airport, tearful relatives were ushered into a private area to await developments and get counselling from a team of psychologists.

At Rio’s Tom Jobim International Airport stunned relatives were ushered off to a closed lounge, away from the news media and into the care of psychologists and doctors.

One woman, Vasti Ester van Sluijs, told AFP she had jumped into a taxi as soon as she heard the overnight Air France flight had disappeared.

“My daughter Adriana Francesca was on the plane,” she said.

A man who gave his name as Bernard had despair in his voice as he explained his brother and sister-in-law were also on the missing Airbus. “I called Air France right away, and they told me they didn’t have information,” he said.

Air France said the 216 passengers included 126 men, 82 women, seven children and a baby. There were 12 French crew members.

The passengers hailed from 32 countries, including 61 from France, 58 from Brazil and 26 from Germany.

French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo, whose portfolio includes transport, said hijacking had been ruled out.

Airbus said the A330 has a good safety record, with no fatalities ever on a commercial flight. One did crash in 1994 during a test flight in southern France, however, killing seven people on board.

Last week Air France announced its first net loss since it merged with Dutch airline KLM in 2003 to create Europe’s biggest airline.

In July 2000 all 109 passengers and crew plus four people on the ground were killed when a supersonic Air France Concorde crashed during takeoff from Charles de Gaulle airport. All Concordes were eventually taken out of service.

On August 3, 2005, an Air France A340 with 309 on board skidded off the runway after landing in a thunderstorm at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Fourteen people suffered minor injuries.


Internet singing sensation Susan Boyle was admitted to a London clinic suffering from emotional exhaustion after being beaten in the final of the “Britain’s Got Talent” TV contest, judges on the show said on Monday.  

Dowdy and unglamorous, Boyle seemed an unlikely star when she first appeared on the show in April, only to stun the judges and become a global Internet sensation with her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables.”

Boyle, 48, had been heavily backed to win the competition after clips of her earlier appearance were downloaded nearly 200 million times.

But after coming in second on Saturday, doctors were called to her London hotel and suggested she go to a clinic for rest, “Britain’s Got Talent” judge Piers Morgan told U.S. celebrity news outlets on Monday.

“Susan is completely and utterly exhausted,” Morgan told U.S. celebrity television show “Extra.”

“I think she’s found this whole roller coaster ride of the last seven weeks overwhelming … and she’s gone somewhere now that she can find the peace and the quiet to get some sleep, to eat properly and get over what has been an astonishing time in her life.”

Morgan said he had spoken to Boyle and did not think she had suffered a breakdown.

Despite expectations that Boyle would make a fortune from her talent and instant fame, there has been concern among show organizers about her ability to cope with pressure.

Boyle, who was starved of oxygen at birth leading to minor brain damage, has been pursued by the world’s press since early April and broke down in tears repeatedly ahead of the final.

“She didn’t sleep. She wasn’t eating. I saw her just before she went onstage, they were doing their rehearsals and I arrived…She told me she felt tired and sick with nerves, and she was worried she was going to be sick,” judge Amanda Holden told “Inside Edition.”

Nearly four million Britons phoned in to choose a winner, and street dance troupe Diversity won 24.9 percent of the vote ahead of Boyle’s 20.2 percent.

Morgan said Boyle may have lost because of overkill in Britain. “I think it was a bit too much for some people in Britain…They just got a bit bored, a bit irritated by the whole mania surrounding Susan,” he said.

Boyle’s financial future has been seen as secure despite coming second, as “Britain’s Got Talent” creator Simon Cowell and his Syco music label were widely expected to sign her up for an album. There has also been talk of a Hollywood movie.

Morgan said he did not think Boyle would go back to her sheltered life. “My prediction is she’ll have a number one selling album around the world in the next four or five months.”

(Reporting by Kate Kelland in London and Jill Serjeant in Los Angeles, editing by Vicki Allen)


WHEN he made the journey from Zimbabwe that took him to South Africa through the crocodile-infested Limpopo River five years ago, former street child Tendai Sean Joe did not expect that his fortunes would change so dramatically. After years of scrounging for food in bins near restaurants dotted in the central business district of Harare, Sean Joe, who is now based in Cape Town believes his star is finally starting to shine. He has embarked on a project to raise awareness on the plight of children on a tour of Africa and Europe and a documentary to be titled Trail of Hope will be made out of this journey, which is receiving support from some of the well known celebrities. British Director, Andy Wilson who directed the 1997 film Playing God with David Duchovny and Angelina Jolie will be filming the Trail of Hope documentary. In August this year, Sean Joe and partner Albert Arcona, are setting off on a Trail of Hope: a three-month motorbike journey through Africa and Europe to raise awareness on the plight of children. At the same time they hope to raise funds for the Cape Town based MyLife Project, a South African organisation working to rehabilitate people living on the streets and integrate them back into society. The project is run by people who come from the environment but have since managed to turn their lives around. Ambassadors of the MyLife project are international actors Billy Zane and James Purefoy, Hakeem Kazeem of Pirates of the Caribbean fame, Just Jinjer’s lead vocalist Art Matthews and Top Billing presenter Jeannie D. Sean Joe told Standardplus through the social network, Facebook that: “Millions of children live and work on the streets, without food, education, adequate shelter, or a loving family or protection from traffickers, paedophiles, criminals and abusers. “These children are caught in a desperate struggle which sees them surviving the realities of poverty, addiction, gangsterism, crime, institutionalization, life without any medication to diseases. “These are our future generations that we have conveniently put on the periphery of society and labelled ‘street’ child.” Their journey will start in Cape Town and progress through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Spain, France and Germany before ending in England. The road trip ends with two fundraising concerts in Berlin and London. The concerts will be graced by top celebrities who support the cause. In each country, they will seek out and speak to children living on the streets and document the stories on their blog. While travelling, the two expect to sleep on the streets, churches and in children’s homes and their journeys would be captured by a film crew. “We require a film production company or TV station to cover our ride,” Sean Joe said. “We would like to partner with the corporate world, public figures and all those who support this cause. “The ultimate goal is to make as much noise as possible and create awareness to the plight of the street children across Africa.” BY JOHN MOKWETSI



Ian Griffin has been at the centre of an international manhunt since Tuesday, when the bruised and battered body of Kinga Legg was found at the exclusive Hotel Bristol. A Cheshire Police spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that as a result of on-going inquiries made in the Cheshire area in relation to the murder of Kinga Legg in Paris, a black Porsche vehicle has been recovered from a property in Warrington.” Miss Legg, 36, died from internal bleeding the day after checking into the £1,000-a-night hotel alone on Monday, with Mr Griffin arriving separately hours later. The Polish businesswoman’s body was found by a hotel cleaner but Mr Griffin and his car had vanished. Miss Legg’s room was spattered with blood and furniture was smashed, with clear evidence of a struggle, police said. Former model Mr Griffin ran a series of businesses including tanning salons and gadget shops across north west England. He has previously hit the headlines for a product sold by his Gadget Masters company – a pin cushion of Osama bin Laden. But it has been reported his empire failed and he was declared bankrupt in 2006. Miss Legg ran a company called Vegex, which supplies tomatoes to British supermarkets and has a base in Surrey. The couple shared a home in Knutsford, Cheshire, before moving to Oxshott, Surrey. French police said there may have been up to 12 hours between Mr Griffin leaving the hotel in his Porsche and Miss Legg’s body being found in the bathroom of their suite. The manhunt for the Briton initially focused on the French Riviera.


S Africans battle to save whales Stormy seas are driving some of the whales back ashore Rescuers are using bulldozers to try to push 55 pilot whales back into the water after they beached near the South African city of Cape Town. High winds and waves are hampering the operation to save the adults and calves which came ashore in the early hours of the morning. But the whales are swimming back to the beach as soon as they are returned to the water, rescuers say. The whales, about 3m (10ft) long, are common to the waters off South Africa. Six bulldozers are being used in the rescue operation, and rescuers and volunteers are trying to keep the stranded mammals wet, National Sea Rescue Institute spokesman Craig Lambinon told reporters. “As soon as we put them back into the sea, they swim back to the beach again,” he explained. Rough seas were also pushing the whales back ashore. At least one whale has died. Mr Lambinon said it was still unclear why the whales had come ashore. It was the first mass beaching of whales he had seen on the popular beach at Kommitjie, near Cape Point. Volunteer helpers and onlookers have flocked to the area, blocking the main approach road, reports say.


nokia_ftr2Nokia unveiled three new cell phone models on Monday, including the cheapest 3G phone to date from the world’s top handset maker.

The new 2730 Classic is expected to retail for 80 euros (R950), excluding taxes and operator subsidies, and go on sale from the third quarter of this year.

An analyst said some smaller rivals might sell 3G phones for less, but this was the cheapest model on the market from any top-tier manufacturer.

“The pricing is very, very interesting, especially for operators trying to migrate users to 3G. It will make a difference to sales,” said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.

The handset market saw its worst ever quarter in January-March, leading Nokia to report its first ever quarterly pretax loss.

Nokia’s wide offering has kept it ahead of its traditional rivals like Samsung Electronics, but the Finnish firm has lost market share at the top end of the market to rivals like Apple and Research in Motion.

“We knew already that Nokia can do affordable devices. What we need to see is what it can do in the high end and how margins are going to develop if it continues to push into the low end,” Milanesi said.

Nokia also unveiled the 7020 and 2720 Fold models, which would sell for 90 (R1050) and 55 euros (R650), respectively.

The new 3G handset, with Nokia’s traditional candybar design, is targeted at entry-level prepaid users in both developing and developed markets.

“Mobile operators worldwide are crying out for more low-cost 3G handsets which enable them to reduce their expensive subsidy budgets and target high-volume mass-market consumers,” said Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston.

“Entry-level consumers in regions such as Asia and Africa will make up the next major wave of growth for the 3G handset industry and the 2730 Classic helps to address that segment,” Mawston said.


Botswana plans to circumcise nearly half a million AFP/File – HIV+ support group members at a clinic in Gabane in 2007. Botswana, which has one of the world’s …

 Thu May 7, 5:46 pm ET

 GABORONE (AFP) – Botswana, which has one of the world’s highest HIV infection rates, has launched a scheme to circumcise nearly half a million men to curb the spread the disease, the health ministry said Thursday.

The country hopes to circumcise 460,000 men over the next five years, after a series of studies found that circumcised men were two to three times less likely to contract HIV, said Janet Mwambona, a public health specialist in charge of the project.

“For the public health benefits of the preventive effect of circumcision to be realised, the Ministry of Health is supposed to cover 80 percent of eligible males in Botswana,” she said.

Government is running television and radio campaigns to encourage men to visit clinics for safe circumcision procedures.

“All primary and district hospitals are currently booking clients and performing the procedure,” added Mwambona.

About 50 healthcare providers, including 27 doctors have undergone training on surgical circumcision.

The rapid spread of HIV and AIDS once threatened the survival of the approximately two million people of the land-locked southern African country, until the introduction of antiretroviral drugs in 2003.

According to a 2005 UNAIDS report, Botswana’s HIV prevalence among pregnant women between the ages of 15 and 24 has stayed between 35 and 37 percent since 2001.

The rate among the older pregnant women was last measured at 43 percent in 2003.


By Peter Allen, Ian Sparks, Neil Sears and Tom Kelly
Last updated at 6:29 PM on 22nd May 2009

 New pictures show actress in film she made with cameraman boyfriend

Tragic British actress Lucy Gordon left two suicide notes before hanging herself in the Paris flat she shared with her cinematographer boyfriend, her father said today.

Miss Gordon, 28, who played reporter Jennifer Dugan in Spider-Man 3, detailed her last wishes regarding her estate on one piece of paper and left a letter for her parents on another.

Her father Richard Gordon said a post-mortem examination proved she had died from hanging and that no other marks were found on her body. He spoke today to end speculation that the death might be anything other than suicide.

Tragedy: Lucy Gordon on the set of her comedy Cineman, which is currently in post-production. The cinematographer on the film was her boyfriend, Jerome Almeras, who discovered her body

Tragedy: Lucy Gordon on the set of her comedy Cineman, which is currently in post-production. The cinematographer on the film was her boyfriend, Jerome Almeras, who discovered her body

Lucy's make-up is retouched as she sits on the set of Cineman. She appears to be dressed as Maid Marian next to a character dressed as Robin Hood

Lucy’s make-up is retouched as she sits on the set of Cineman. She appears to be dressed as Maid Marian next to a character dressed as Robin Hood



 Lucy Gordon
Lucy Gordon

Tragic: Lucy Gordon, pictured here at the Spider-Man 3 premiere in 2007, was found dead in her Paris apartment

Speaking from the family’s Oxford home on what would have been Miss Gordon’s 29th birthday, Mr Gordon, 60, said: ‘There is no question of foul play. Lucy committed suicide.’

Miss Gordon’s boyfriend, revealed today as top cinematographer Jerome Alveras, was asleep in the Paris apartment when the actress hanged herself on Tuesday night.

Mr Gordon said: ‘We speak to him daily and he is also distraught.’

Almeras – the cinematographer behind last year’s Kristin Scott Thomas hit film I’ve Loved You So Long – has spent the last two days being questioned by police about his 28-year-old lover’s apparent suicide.

Lucy during Cineman filming. The French comedy was shot in France, Belgium and Spain

Lucy during Cineman filming. The French comedy was shot in France, Belgium and Spain


Lucy during Cineman filming. It is not known if the actress met boyfriend Jerome Almeras on the set of the film, where he was the cinematographer

Lucy during Cineman filming. It is not known if the actress met boyfriend Jerome Almeras on the set of the film, where he was the cinematographer


The pair are believed to have had a lovers’ tiff on Tuesday night with Mr Almeras waking up on Wednesday morning to a scene of horror.

Mr Almeras, a Frenchman in his 40s, rushed out of the two-bedroom rented flat in Paris’s 10th arrondissement  and alerted a nearby shopkeeper, but it was too late to save Miss Gordon. 

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