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The autopilot on the Air France flight that crashed in the Atlantic was not working, investigators have said.
All 228 people on board, including five Britons, 12 crewmembers, a baby and seven children, are thought to have perished in the world's worst aviation disaster since 2001.
Pre-crash signals from Flight 447, which went down en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris last Sunday, showed the autopilot was not working, French investigators said.
Paul-Louis Arslanian, the head of the French agency leading the crash investigation, said it was not clear if the pilots switched it off or it stopped working because it received conflicting airspeed readings.
Plane manufacturer Airbus said the probe found the flight received inconsistent readings from different instruments as it struggled in a massive thunderstorm.
Meteorologists said the Air France jet entered an unusual storm with 100mph updrafts that acted as a vacuum, sucking water up from the ocean.
The moist air rushed up to the plane's high altitude, where it quickly froze in minus-40 degree temperatures. The updrafts also would have created dangerous turbulence.
Investigators are still searching a zone of several hundred square miles for debris from the crash, after earlier reports that wreckage had been found in the Atlantic were found to be wrong.
Two pieces of new evidence have suggested that the stricken Air France jet broke up over a number of minutes, rather than in one catastrophic incident.
Firstly, bodies from Flight 447 had been picked up from locations more than 50 miles apart, the Brazilian Air Force revealed.
And secondly, a re-analysis of the plane's last automatic transmissions indicated many parts had malfunctioned before it plunged into the Atlantic.