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Airline boss ducks Lubitz questions

Published 01/04/2015

Flowers in front of a monument in the area where a Germanwings aircraft crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board (AP)
Flowers in front of a monument in the area where a Germanwings aircraft crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board (AP)

Lufthansa chief Carsten Spohr has refused to answer questions about his company's handling of the co-pilot responsible for the Airbus A320 French Alps crash.

Today, Mr Spohr visited the site of the Germanwings crash in which all 150 people on board, including three Britons, were killed after co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, deliberately flew the plane into mountains.

Mr Spohr thanked the rescue teams and the investigators and said Lufthansa, which is Germanwings' parent company, would continue to support the victims' families and help restore the crash site.

But after making his statement, Mr Spohr walked away and refused to answer shouted questions from the media about Lubitz.

Reporters had been keen to get Mr Spohr to talk further about the fact that Lufthansa said it knew six years ago that Lubitz suffered from a "serious depressive episode".

Lufthansa said that as part of its internal research it found emails Lubitz sent to the Lufthansa flight school in Bremen when he resumed his training there after an interruption of several months.

In them, he told the school he had suffered a "serious depressive episode", which had since subsided.

The airline said Lubitz subsequently passed all medical checks and it has provided the documents to prosecutors.

Meanwhile, a video of the last moments on the doomed plane has been found on a mobile phone memory card at the crash site in the French Alps, according to reports.

The "totally blurred and chaotic" footage was reportedly made from the back of the A320 and features the sound of three metallic bangs - presumed to be the captain trying to break into the locked cockpit.

Germany's Bild newspaper and French magazine Paris Match both reported they had viewed the video of the last seconds of Flight 4U9525.

They said no individuals could be made out and it was unclear whether it had been filmed by a crew member or a passenger.

Screams of "My God" can be heard in several languages before the cabin is jolted to the side, apparently when the plane clipped a mountainside, according to the reports.

More desperate cries can be heard before the video ends, Bild said.

Paris Match said the footage was recovered from the debris of the wreckage by a "source close to the investigation".

Lufthansa said it was aware of reports about the footage, but questioned whether a mobile phone could have withstood the impact.

A spokesman for the company said: "We have also read of reports in a French newspaper about the video. But we have not seen the video and we do not know if it exists. Therefore we cannot confirm if the video is genuine.

"Considering that everything on the plane was destroyed, it would be unusual for a mobile phone to survive the impact."

At the crash site today, authorities said they had finished collecting human remains. A spokesman said only "belongings and pieces of metal" remained.

Officials at France's national criminal laboratory near Paris say it will take a few months until the identification process is completed and the remains are returned to the families.

The Britons who died were Paul Bramley, 28, originally from Hull, Martyn Matthews, 50, from Wolverhampton, and seven-month-old Julian Pracz-Bandres, from Manchester, who died alongside his mother, Marina Bandres Lopez Belio, 37, originally from Spain.

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