A memorial service for the crash victims of Air France Flight 447 was held at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Wednesday. President Sarkozy and First Lady Bruni-Sarkozy paid their respects at the ceremony, attended by mourning relatives and friends of the victims, as well as Air France staff.
Air France was involved in organizing the memorial, seen as "a moment of contemplation and prayer for the families and friends of the victims, in a spirit of unity among people from every country and religious belief," according to an airline press release.
Religious leaders in attendance represented Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths, among others.
Flight 447 went down off the coast of Brazil Sunday during an Atlantic thunderstorm, and apparently no distress or mayday calls were issued by the crew.
As a Brazilian Navy ship neared the suspected crash area late Wednesday, aircrews have identified a debris area covering nearly 50 miles of ocean.
The large area suggests that the plane broke up over the ocean, rather than crashing into it. The debris area lies approximately 600 miles off the coast of Brazil.
Media reports mention the sighting of metal parts, seats, and a section of the fuselage in the search area, as well as an oil or gas slick. The black box or flight recorder has not been located.
Retrieving the parts from the ocean floor could provide answers to the mystery surrounding the crash, but officials are anxious about the shortage of time. "We are in a race against the clock in extremely difficult weather conditions and in a zone where depths reach up to 22,966 feet," said French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, as quoted in an AP article.
Brazil's Defense Minister Nelson Jobim confirmed that the debris found belonged to Air France Flight 447. He also stated at a press conference Tuesday that there were no signs of survivors, or bodies.