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Return of Germanwings victims' remains delayed over clerical errors

Plans to return the remains of passengers killed when a Germanwings flight crashed into the French Alps earlier this year have been put on hold. The delay has upset families, many of whom had already organized funerals.

A lawyer representing German families said Thursday that Germanwings' parent company, Lufthansa, had announced the remains would not be flown from France to Düsseldorf on June 9 and 10 as originally planned.

"Anger and despair are growing," said attorney Elmar Giemulla, whose clients include relatives of 16 German students who died coming back from an exchange trip to Spain.

Giemulla said many of the families had already organized to bury their loved ones next week, and the funerals would now have to be cancelled.

A new date for repatriating the bodies from the French city of Marseille has not yet been set.

According to a Germanwings spokesman, the dates had to be pushed back because of a number of mistakes in the official death certificates.

"We know how important this is to the relatives and we will try to find a solution as soon as possible," Joachim Schöttes told the Associated Press news agency.

Bernard Bartolini, the mayor of Prads-Haute-Bleone close to where the plane crashed, told German news agency DPA the errors involved misspelled names and birth places and would be rectified before the end of the week. The proximity of the crash site meant that authorities in his city were charged with issuing and translating death certificates.

All 150 passengers died when flight 4U9525 slammed into a mountainside in southern France on March 24. Investigators believe Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed the Airbus, which was on its way from Barcelona to Düsseldorf. About half of those who died were German. The repatriation of victims from other countries has also reportedly been delayed.

nm/kms (AP, dpa)

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