Grief-stricken families from Europe and the United States flew to the rocky coast of Nova Scotia Friday to face the task of identifying remains pulled out of the Atlantic, where Swissair Flight 111 crashed into fragments.
Canadian officials brought in the 200-foot submarine HMCS Okanagan, signaling they were preparing to shift gears from a massive rescue operation into a search and salvage mission.Rescue boats toiled all night in rough seas off the fishing village of Peggy's Cove, scouring for bodies and remnants of the MD-11 jumbo jet that crashed Wednesday night after its pilots reported smoke in the cockpit.
The submarine began mapping the ocean floor with sonar at 5 a.m.
"We have not yet received any signal yet from the body of the aircraft," said Benoit Bouchard, head of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. "Last night, investigators did not have much to look at. That should come soon, today or tomorrow, if we get the black boxes."
Officials hope to find the plane's flight recorders to help them determine the cause of the crash.
Benoit said large parts of the plane may still be intact underwater, particularly since only about a fourth of the bodies have been found.
However, nothing larger than the size of a car has been found so far, said Lt. Cmdr. Jacques Fauteux, spokesman for the Canadian rescue operation. The debris - a sad array that included ripped clothing, wallets, baby bottles and seat cushions - was scattered over seven square miles.
About 100 Canadian soldiers were being brought in to search 60 miles of rugged coastline near the crash.
Authorities sealed off Peggy's Cove - a village of 60 people - and set up tents complete with food, drinks and counselors to accommodate the hundreds of relatives flying in. A secluded area was created so mourners could look out over the ocean and watch boats and aircraft pursue the search.
Details emerged from around the world about the array of distinguished professionals among the 229 people killed in the crash.
Brilliant doctors, high-powered executives, risk-taking relief workers were among the dead. Seven victims were affiliated with the United Nations.
Swissair said that a re-examination of the passenger list has found there were 132 Americans on board - instead of the 137 reported Thursday.
Officials estimated Thursday night that 60 bodies had been recovered and taken to a morgue at a military base outside Halifax. They said none appeared to be burned, indicating there was no explosion or large fire.
A dozen grieving family members, clutching one another for support, silently filed through Halifax International Airport late Thursday. More than 110 relatives and helpers were expected Friday on a Swissair flight from Switzerland, and others were coming from New York.
Swissair also offered $20,000 in immediate aid to each family.
The MD-11 dropped off radar screens about 90 minutes after leaving New York's Kennedy International Airport late Wednesday on its way to Geneva.
After a normal takeoff, the crew reported smoke in the cockpit and decided to turn back to Boston. They were told the Halifax airport was much closer, but they never made it there, crashing into the ocean 30 miles south of Halifax after dumping much of their fuel.
There were no indications that the crash resulted from sabotage or a terrorist act, but investigators were not ruling anything out. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police called in explosives experts to examine debris for signs of a possible bomb blast. FBI officials were on the scene Friday, and U.S. crash experts were working on the rescue boats.