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Cause of accident remains uncertain

Flight 4U9525: first victims identified, rescue search continues

Aircraft's black box voice recorder has been recovered and contains a usable audio. European leaders have visited the crash site.

FUENTES Agencies AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus PARIS 25 DE MARZO DE 2015 15:20 h
Part of the vertical stabilizer of the Germanwings Airbus A320. / AFP

Germanwings flight 4U9525, travelling from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, crashed in the French Alps near Digne-les-Bains on Tuesday, killing all 150 people on board.

Crash scene investigators have resumed the search today (Wednesday) for clues as to what caused the accident.



Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel and Mariano Rajoy, the leaders of France, Germany and Spain, flew into Seyne-les-Alps by helicopter. 

After meeting with investigators at the scene, they have held a press conference together, to explain the current situation.

Francois Hollande has started the three leaders’ press conference saying that the emergency services mobilised as quickly as possible once news of the disaster emerged, but “unfortunately there were no survivors”. He confirmed that the bodies are being identified, and the casing of the second black box recorder has been found, but not the recorder itself. “We owe it to the families, to find out why this disaster happened”, French president concluded.


Hollande, Merkel and Rajoy Press Conference / BBC


Chancellor Merkel thanked Hollande and said she felt very close to the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy. She reiterated that “everything possible will be done to find out what happened, no matter how long it takes”.

“We are all going to work together in very difficult circumstance”, Spanish President, Rajoy, told the press.  He also emphasized that “everything will be done to identify and return the remains to relatives”. He thanked Hollande and the French people for their generosity. 



There is contradictory data about the victims’ nationalities.

It is believed that victims came from all over the world. While the majority were from Spain and Germany, citizens of the UK, Australia, Argentina, Mexico, Japan, Israel, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Denmark, the Netherlands, the USA and Belgium are also thought to have been on board.

Victims from 16 countries have been already confirmed by the airline. Families are arriving in Seyne-les-Alps.

Germanwings Chief Executive Thomas said 35 Spaniards were among the victims and that 72 Germans also died. He commented there were two victims each from the following the countries: Australia, Argentina, Iran, Venezuela and the United States.


Helicopters fly over Seyne-les-Alpes as they resume works to recover victims’ bodies / Alberto Estevez/EPA


He also confirmed one casualty from each of these countries: Britain, the Netherlands, Colombia, Mexico, Japan, Denmark, Belgium and Israel.

Winkelmann said the nationalities of some victims had yet to be confirmed because of dual nationality.

On the other hand, the Spanish Interior Minister said there are 51 Spaniards among the victims, and David Cameron, UK Prime Minister, told the press that at least three British citizens were dead.

The identity of many passengers has already been revealed. Among them were the opera singers Oleg Bryjak and Maria Radner.



On Wednesday morning, Bernard Cazeneuve, French Interior Minister, talked about the recovery of the damaged black box, in an interview with French radio.

“The black box was damaged, but it will be possible to put it back together in order to be able to make use of it and to determine the conditions surrounding this drama”, he explained.

This afternoon, Remi Jouty, director of the French aviation investigation bureau (BEA) at Le Bourget, has held a technical briefing with updates on the crash investigation.

The sound recorder was found at 5pm yesterday and arrived at 09:45 on Wednesday under seal. “We managed to get some audio - usable files, but it is still too early to draw conclusions as to what happened”, said Jouty.

The director confirmed that members of his team had listened to the recording and heard voices, but refused to give any more details. The speed of descent was about 3,500ft per minute, he explained. Regarding some rumours about lithium in the cargo, Jouty commented that such questions have to be investigated.


Plane's cockpit voice recorder / Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses (BEA)


According to Jouty, the final message from the plane was a routine one, confirming its trajectory. “One minute later, the trajectory started descending until impact”, he declared.

He also pointed that small size of debris suggests aircraft did not explode in flight.

Bureau’s director stated that they “will investigate, of course, the professional history of the pilots”, but will “not to reveal the names of the pilots during the course of the investigation”, because that is “the bureau’s policy”.

He could not say how long it will take to study the audio file, whose voice it is and to interpret the information. “It will take time.” He can’t specify the length of time of the files or the language of the pilots. “We have not located the black box or found dispersed debris,” he concluded.

The BEA was “optimistic” that the second black box, which includes the flight data recorder, would be found.



French air investigators were urgently examining the black box cockpit voice recorder (CVR) from the Airbus A320 and reported they were puzzled as to why the crew did not send out a mayday or distress signal as flight U49525 rapidly lost altitude for eight minutes, or why the pilot did not change course to avoid smashing into a rocky ravine at around 430mph (700kmh).

In the last 10 minutes of the flight there was total radio silence from the crew of the Barcelona–Düsseldorf flight operated by Lufthansa’s low-cost subsidiary.

Lufthansa, the owner of Germanwings, still has no idea either of what caused the crash and it does not want to speculate.

“It is inexplicable for us, how an aeroplane in good mechanical condition, with two experienced, Lufthansa-trained pilots, could encounter such a tragedy from cruising altitude", Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr, himself a pilot, told journalists in Frankfurt.

Bernard Cazeneuve stated that an explosion was unlikely because the debris is concentrated in an area of around 1.5 hectares, suggesting it would have been more widespread if the plane had blown up.

Earlier this morning,  Brice Robin, prosecutor for the city of Marseille, told Reuters what he saw over the crash site: “We saw an aircraft that had literally been ripped apart, the bodies are in a state of destruction, and there is not one intact piece of wing or fuselage.”



Some Germanwings pilots refused to fly after the crash so the airline had to cancel at least one flight. The flight cancelled was the connection from the western German city of Düsseldorf to Barcelona.

A company’s spokeswoman confirmed that “Lufthansa flights are going ahead as planned. She declined to say how many pilots declined to work on Wednesday.


Lufthansa and Germanwings flags are flying at half mast / EPA

The spokesman of the pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit, Joerg Handwerg, insisted the decision was not because of concerns about safety.

“It has nothing to do with safety. The pilots have friends and colleagues who have died”, Handwerg told public television.



The town of Haltern in western Germany is in mourning after the death of 16 students and two teachers from Joseph-König High School. They were on their way home from a Spanish exchange trip.

“This is surely the blackest day in the history of our town,” Haltern’s mayor, Bodo Klimpel, told reporters on Tuesday evening, as mourners gathered at the school to light candles and console each other. “This is pretty much the worst thing you can imagine”.


Students put candles in front of the Joseph-Koenig school / Maja Hitij/dpa/Corbis

Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy, has declared three days of mourning in Spain for the victims.




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