Wednesday 28 September 2016

Search ends for victims of Germanwings plane crash in French Alps

Published 05/04/2015 | 08:13

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (2ndL) is helped by a gendarme as he places a wreath by a stele in memory of the victims of the Germanwings Airbus A320 crash REUTERS/Lionel Bonaventure/Pool
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (2ndL) is helped by a gendarme as he places a wreath by a stele in memory of the victims of the Germanwings Airbus A320 crash REUTERS/Lionel Bonaventure/Pool
An aerial photo taken from a helicopter shows the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 and its debris on the mountainside near e Seyne-les-Alpes REUTERS/Lionel Bonaventure/Pool

French investigators have ended their search for bodies in the Alps where a Germanwings passenger jet crashed last month, killing all 150 people on board.

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Prosecutors believe German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately flew the Airbus A320 jet into the mountainside during a flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, pulverising the aircraft and making recovery efforts extremely complicated.

A rescue worker is lifted into an helicopter with what appears to be a body at the crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France.
A rescue worker is lifted into an helicopter with what appears to be a body at the crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France.
A French gendarme helicopter flies over the crash site
Rescue workers work on debris of the Germanwings jet at the crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France, yesterday.

"The search for bodies is over, but the search for the victims' personal belongings is continuing," a spokesman for the local government authority in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region told Reuters.

"Lufthansa has also hired a specialist firm to remove the debris of the aircraft, under the authority of the French public prosecutor and an expert in charge of environmental supervision of the operations," he said.

Read more: Germanwings co-pilot 'repeatedly sped up the plane' to descend the A320 into the Alps

Lufthansa is the parent company of the lowcost Germanwings carrier.

The identification of victims will now continue through the analysis of 150 sets of DNA found at site, which could take several weeks. The prosecutor leading the French legal probe has cautioned that the number of DNA sets does not necessarily mean all the victims have been found.

As soon as a DNA set is matched to one of the victims, the family will immediately be informed.

Police at the home of pilot Andreas Lubitz
Police at the home of pilot Andreas Lubitz
Girls console each other at the German school where 16 of its pupils were killed in the Alpine crashwere
France's President Francois Hollande (C), Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (R) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel walk on a field near the crash site of Germanwings Airbus A320 near Seyne-les-Alpes

Work to remove aircraft debris and clean up the site will start next week and could take up to two months, said General David Galtier, a regional French police commander in charge of the operation.

Cockpit audio recordings from the first black box, recovered hours after the March 24 crash, led prosecutors to believe that Lubitz locked the captain out of the cockpit and put the plane into a steep descent.

Read more: Second Germanwings black box confirms co-pilot deliberately crashed plane

This version of events appeared to be further corroborated by data from the second 'black box' recorder that was recovered earlier this week.

A separate German legal inquiry has pointed to mental health problems affecting the 27-year-old Lubitz.

German prosecutors said on Thursday that the co-pilot had made Internet searches on ways to commit suicide in the days ahead of the crash, as well as searches about cockpit doors and safety precautions. According to Der Spiegel magazine on Friday, the prosecutors searched the offices of five doctors whose help Lubitz had sought.

Lufthansa has said Lubitz told its flight school in 2009 he had gone through a period of severe depression.

Reuters

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