Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim said on Wednesday that it appeared unlikely that an explosion tore apart an Air France plane that came down in the Atlantic with 228 people on board.
A long fuel slick found in an zone where debris was spotted “means that it is improbable that there was a fire or explosion, but that is just a hypothesis,” he said.
He was inferring that the high-octane jet fuel would have ignited if a blast or fire had occurred.
For all that though, “there is still no possibility” of determining what caused the crash, Jobim said.
Searches were going on in a 200-kilometer (120-mile) radius north of a tiny Atlantic atoll belonging to Brazil called the Sao Pedro and Sao Paulo archipelago where the Air France plane came down, he said.
The search zone was around 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from the northeast coast of mainland Brazil, and its proximity to the atoll meant it was in Brazilian waters, Jobim said.
Air France flight AF 447 came down early Monday as it was on its way across the Atlantic Ocean from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
A search has been mounted for its black boxes to clear up the mystery of the accident, but experts were pessimistic about recovering the data devices from the bottom of the seabed, some 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) underwater.