This is the latest news:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8078147.stm
Atlantic searched for lost plane
Most of the missing are Brazilians
France and Brazil are searching waters deep in the Atlantic for an airliner carrying 228 passengers and crew which disappeared in a storm on Monday.
France believes there is little hope of finding survivors from among those aboard the Air France Airbus, which was flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
An automatic report of a short circuit was the last communication it put out before vanishing over the ocean.
French officials believe it may been disabled by a storm.
See a map of the plane's route
Staff at Charles de Gaulle and Rio's Jobim international airport have been trying to help relatives and friends of the 228 missing people.
They [the search teams] are hoping they can find debris, pieces, lifejackets that eventually float
Maria Celina Rodrigues
Brazilian consul in Paris
Passenger nationalities revealed
In pictures: Waiting for news
Mystery of Air France flight
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.
If no survivors are found, it will be the worst loss of life involving an Air France plane in the firm's 75-year history.
French and US sources have ruled out terrorism as the cause of the plane's loss.
US spy technology
Plane crews have narrowed their search to a zone of a few dozen nautical miles half-way between Brazil and west Africa, said Pierre-Henry Gourgeon, chief executive of Air France.
Flight AF 447 left Rio at 1900 local time (2200 GMT) on Sunday
Airbus A330-200 carrying 216 passengers and at least 12 crew
Contact lost 0130 GMT
Missed scheduled landing at 1110 local time (0910 GMT) in Paris
Timeline of Flight AF 447
Air disasters timeline
Their work may be aided by the Airbus's Argos beacons, which will emit signals for several days, he added.
A French reconnaissance plane based in Dakar, Senegal, was due to reach the suspected crash area on Monday evening.
It was to be followed by two other French planes based in Dakar, and a naval vessel currently cruising in the Gulf of Guinea, several days' sailing away. Spain and Senegal also despatched planes to help in the search.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed that his government was approaching Washington for help.
An unnamed aide to French Defence Minister Herve Morin told AFP news agency earlier that France had contacted the Pentagon to "obtain access to its satellite observation capability and listening stations which might just be able to supply us with some clues".
Brazil has sent out seven air force planes and three naval ships to help in the search, far off the north-eastern Brazilian coast.
"We want to try to reach the last point where the aircraft made contact, which is about 1,200km [745 miles] north-east of Natal [in Brazil]," said Brazilian air force spokesman Col Jorge Amaral.
An unnamed air force spokesman told AFP news agency the search was focusing on a remote area close to where the last radio contact with the plane was recorded.
"This zone is on the line between the jurisdiction of Brazilian air control and that of Dakar in Senegal," he added.
Maria Celina Rodrigues, the Brazilian consul in Paris, accepted that the depth of the ocean would make it difficult for searchers.
"They are hoping they can find debris, pieces, lifejackets that eventually float, but that takes some time and they are coordinating with weather services and with officials overseeing maritime currents to try and narrow down the area," she told the Associated Press.
'She was on the plane'
The plane's automatic report was generated at 0214 GMT on Monday, about four hours after Flight AF 447 left Rio de Janeiro, and as it was heading through turbulence towards the west African coast.
Missing man Arthur Coakley’s wife, Patricia, and his business partner Ken Pearce
"A succession of a dozen technical messages" showed that "several electrical systems had broken down" which caused a "totally unprecedented situation in the plane", said Mr 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 airliner had been due to land.
Flight AF 447 was flying at an altitude of 10,670m (35,000ft) shortly before it went missing.
A meteorologist who spoke to the Associated Press said tropical thunderstorms in the Atlantic could tower up to 15,240m (50,000ft).
"At the altitude it was flying, it's possible that the Air France plane flew directly into the most charged part of the storm - the top," said Henry Margusity, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com.
French officials have stressed that the plane's captain was very experienced, clocking up more than 11,000 hours of flight.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy personally met relatives and friends of passengers at a crisis centre set up in Charles de Gaulle airport.
"I told them the truth," he said afterwards. "The prospects of finding survivors are very small."
At Rio's Jobim airport, shocked relatives were ushered into a closed lounge, away from the 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 news that the plane was missing.
"My daughter Adriana Francesca was on the plane," she said.
What a terrible tragedy. There is the usual speculation about what caused the crash and the latest theory is that possibly lightning hit the wing, thus igniting the fuel tanks. Until they find the debris or any signs of where the plane went down they are not going to know for sure. These poor souls onboard. May they all rest in peace.