• France's news in English

Harrowing search at Alps plane crash site goes on

The Local/AFP · 27 Mar 2015, 16:46

Published: 27 Mar 2015 16:47 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Mar 2015 16:46 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
Officials continue combing the wreckage for body parts and DNA samples for a fourth day in a row in the hope of identifying the 150 people who died on Tuesday when a Germanwings flight carrying 150 people crashed into a mountain in the French Alps. 
All on board were killed, in what is understood to have been a deliberate move initiated by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz.
"We're first collecting biological elements, then debris," a police spokesman told AFP.
Late on Friday afternoon, French police reported that investigators had found 400 to 600 pieces of human remain, but no intact bodies. 
Images released from France's Interior Ministry show the first real close look at crash site, a scene littered with debris from the aircraft.
"There's not much plane debris left. There's mainly a lot of body parts to pick up. The operation could last another two weeks," police spokesman Xavier Vialenc told the AFP news agency.
There are 15 specialists on site, ten to take DNA samples and five detectives running the legal investigation.
Nearby, around 40 technicians are working on the DNA samples from the crash site, comparing them to samples taken from the families.
A local building has been commandeered and turned into a biological analysis unit, with several white tents running off generators.
Officials are also hoping to find the second black box, which records flight data. The information on it will help authorities piece together more details about the last moments of the flight. 
A first black box was found earlier in the week, which was damaged but contained usable audio recordings from inside the cockpit. 
It was thanks to these recordings that authorities learned that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had locked his captain outside the cockpit. The captain was then heard desperately trying to break down the door, while the co-pilot ignored emergency warning calls from ground control.
The video below, from France's Interior Ministry, shares a closer look at the crash scene. 

Crash de l'A320 : les premières images des recherches au sol par leparisien

Also at the scene of the crash have been the bereaved families of the victims. After a memorial service on Thursday, the vast majority of them have now left.
Meanwhile, police have been combing over possessions taken from the two homes of the co-pilot.

German prosecutors announced on Friday that they had found a sick note that the co-pilot had hidden from his employers. He should not have been working on the day of the crash.
Story continues below…
It has been reported that the German had suffered at least one "bout of serious depression", forcing him to take a break from his flight training six years ago. 
German newspaper Bild cited security sources as saying that Lubitz and his girlfriend were having a "serious crisis in their relationship" that left him heartbroken and distraught.
Meanwhile, the world is trying to come to terms with what very likely seems to be a suicide and mass murder. 
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that "everything is pointing towards an act that we can't describe: criminal, crazy, suicidal."  
"It's up to the legal investigators -- especially the Germans and of course Lufthansa -- to shed light on the career and profile of this pilot," said Valls.

The Local/AFP (news.france@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available