Cell phone video found in Germanwings wreckage reveals people crying ‘My God’ in many languages
FRANCE — Video found in the wreckage on a French mountainside shows the nightmarish final seconds of Germanwings Flight 9525, reports said Tuesday.
Taken on a cell phone, the video “was so chaotic that it was hard to identify people, but the sounds of the screaming passengers made it perfectly clear that they were aware of what was about to happen to them,” according to the French magazine Paris Match, which obtained the video along with the German newspaper Bild.
“One can hear cries of ‘My God’ in several languages. Metallic banging can also be heard more than three times, perhaps of the pilot trying to open the cockpit door with a heavy object. Towards the end, after a heavy shake, stronger than the others, the screaming intensifies. Then nothing,” Paris Match reports.
The two publications described the video but did not post the video itself.
Lufthansa, meanwhile, announced that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz told told his Lufthansa flight training school in 2009 that he had a “previous episode of severe depression.”
The airline is sharing that information and documents — including training and medical records — with public prosecutors.
Authorities have said Lubitz purposely crashed Flight 9525 into the French Alps on March 24, killing all 150 people aboard.
His girlfriend knew he had psychological issues but “did not know the extent of the problems,” a European government official briefed on the investigation into last week’s crash told CNN on Tuesday.
The girlfriend told investigators the couple were working through the issues together and “were optimistic” they could solve the problems; she was just as surprised as everyone else by what he did to the plane, the source says.
The girlfriend also told investigators Lubitz had seen an eye doctor and a neuropsychologist, both of whom deemed him unfit to work recently and concluded he had psychological issues, according to the source.
Lubitz complained about vision problems; the eye doctor diagnosed a psychosomatic disorder and gave him an “unfit for work” note, the source said.
Investigators are looking into whether Lubitz feared his medical condition would cause him to lose his pilot’s license, the source said, adding that while flying was “a big part of his life,” it’s only one theory being considered.
Another source, a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation, told CNN earlier Tuesday that authorities believe the primary motive for Lubitz to bring down the plane was that he feared he would not be allowed to fly because of his medical problems.
Lubitz told the neuropsychologist that he was too stressed with work, the European government official briefed on the investigation said.
The official said he was not aware of any suicidal tendencies reported by Lubitz to the doctors, but that investigators believe he was suicidal.
Airline officials have said that if Lubitz went to a doctor on his own, he would have been required to self-report if deemed unfit to fly.
The European government official also reiterated that German media tabloid reports that the girlfriend is pregnant or had major personal problems are all speculation and rumor.
The girlfriend and the co-pilot had not, as was widely reported by some media, broken up the day before the crash, the source said.
Official: Lubitz had suicidal tendencies
Earlier, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Dusseldorf, Germany, said Lubitz suffered from suicidal tendencies at some point before his aviation career.
Investigators have not found any writings or conversations where Lubitz shared his motives or confessed to any plans, prosecutor’s spokesman Christoph Kumpa said.
However, medical records reveal that Lubitz was suicidal at one time and underwent psychotherapy. This was before he ever got his pilot’s license, Kumpa said.
Kumpa emphasized there’s no evidence suggesting Lubitz was suicidal or acting aggressively before the crash.
The prosecutor’s office confirmed what some media outlets had reported about doctors deeming Lubitz unfit to fly, though there were no physical illnesses found.
Recovery efforts continue
While investigators search for clues to Lubitz’s motivation, recovery workers continue the grim task of searching for the remains of those killed in the March 24 crash.
Lt. Col. Jean-Marc Menichini, Gendarmerie spokesman for the Provence-Alpes-Cotes d’Azur region, told CNN on Tuesday that a new path has been completed linking Le Vernet, a nearby community, to the mountainous ravine where the plane’s debris is scattered.
It will be used by rescue teams to access the area, he said.
Capt. Yves Naffrechoux, also of the Gendarmerie unit, said Monday that the 1-kilometer path would cut down on the time it takes to reach the crash site considerably.
The trip will now take 30 minutes from Seyne-les-Alps, the staging post for the operation, with less walking involved and thus less fatigue, but also with fewer risks than helicopter transfers.
Two helicopters are still working in case weather conditions improve and allow them to fly, Menichini said.
The remains of at least 78 people on board the plane have been identified so far using DNA analysis.
Naffrechoux warned Monday that “it may not be possible to find the human remains of all the 150 passengers, as some of them may have been pulverized by the crash.”
But French President Francois Hollande, speaking alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, was more positive, saying that it should be possible to identify all the victims by the end of the week.
A simple stone memorial has been set up at Le Vernet, where grieving relatives of those killed have laid flowers and held prayers.
The opening of the road, which must still be paved, will eventually allow family members also to reach the spot where their loved ones died.
Authorities say there are some 26 families of six different nationalities in the area Tuesday.
However, Patricia Willaert, head of the Alpes de Haute-Provence district, told reporters that Lubitz’s family was not among those to have come since the crash.
“There had been some rumors, but they have not come to the site,” she said. “The family of the co-pilot has not come. We have no knowledge of information informing us of that.”
Willaert said some 450 people close to the victims had already traveled to the area, with more expected to come during the Easter weekend.
“The priority has been to welcome them in the best possible way,” she said. She praised the mobilization of local citizens, who spontaneously offered 2,000 beds to accommodate the victims’ families.
German investigators and French criminal investigators are due to work together at the crash site Wednesday, Dusseldorf police said.
Medical record emerging
Much attention has focused on Lubitz’s state of mind, with suggestions that he may have had mental health issues.
Lubitz, 27, passed his annual pilot recertification medical examination in summer 2014, a German aviation source told CNN. He had started working as a commercial pilot in 2013, said Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings.
An official with Lufthansa said that the exam only tests physical health, not psychological health.
It’s unknown if Lubitz mentioned his problems on a form that asks yes-or-no questions about physical and mental illness, suicide attempts and medications. European pilots must fill out the form to be recertified.
Federal aviation authorities, not the airline, issue the form. The form is privileged information, and Lufthansa never sees a pilot’s completed form, an airline representative said.
The airline would only get a “clear to fly” notice from the aviation doctors alerting the airline that a pilot has completed recertification.
France’s accident investigation agency, the BEA, said Tuesday that the ongoing safety investigation was focusing on a more detailed analysis of the flight history leading up to the crash, based on the audio recovered from the cockpit voice recorder and any other available data.
BEA spokeswoman Martine Del Bono told CNN: “A deliberate act by a man with a disturbed psychological profile is a possible scenario. The first step of the investigation is to describe more precisely what happened.”
This will be based mainly on analysis of the cockpit voice recorder, to be supplemented by data from the flight data recorder if it is found, she said.
“But we will also look at other events with possibly similar scenarios, try to understand if there are systemic weaknesses which may contribute or facilitate such scenarios.
“We will in particular look at the cockpit door locking as well as the criteria and procedures applied to detect specific psychological profiles.”
Lufthansa said in a statement Tuesday that it was canceling its 60th anniversary celebrations, planned for April 15.
Instead, the company will provide a live broadcast for its employees of an official state ceremony to be held April 17 in Cologne Cathedral for bereaved families and friends to remember the victims, it said.