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Image: DW/M. Gopalakrishnan

All efforts towards 'mourning in peace'

Manasi Gopalakrishnan
March 24, 2015

The Germanwings air crash has broken the hearts of all of Germany, with even those unconnected with victims feeling shock. Officials have said they want to make sure the bereaved families can mourn in peace.


Hordes of journalists waited with their cameras outside the arrival terminal at Germany's Düsseldorf airport. News had spread that Germanwings flight 4U9525, expected to land at 11:55 a.m. on Tuesday had crashed en route from Barcelona to Düsseldorf.

Unlike emotional scenes reminiscent of several air disasters in the past, Düsseldorf's airport and security officials went about their business with a surprising air of calm and an intention to make everything seem normal despite the tragedy, in which 150 people were killed.

There were no scenes of weeping relatives, waiting desperately for information from officials. In fact, even the press conference was organized a few hundred meters away from the arrival area.

“This is a black day for Lufthansa,” the airlines' regional head Florian Grenzdörffer told journalists. 144 passengers and six crew members died shortly after their plane smashed into the Alps in France. Düsseldorf airport official Thomas Kötter informed reporters that the A320 airbus had touched base 11:30 for the last time, after which it rapidly began losing altitude, crashing in the Barcelonette area in southern France.

Düsseldorf Flughafen VIP Bereich
The VIP area was reserved for counselling families of victimsImage: DW/M. Gopalakrishnan

Both officials requested patience for providing information. Passengers' friends and families who had come to the airport had been taken away by psychologists to help them deal with the trauma.

This explained why the arrival areas at Düsseldorf only had a couple of guests waiting for another Germanwings flight from Palma to land. At the Germanwings counter in the main airport hall, a heavy presence of police and security officials ensured that business at the airport would go about as usual.

"Please do not go very close to take pictures," a security official said, pointing to VIP suites where victims' families were being counseled. Two elderly women, apparently relatives of the deceased, were escorted outside the counseling area by policemen, who ensured they were not subjected to relentless questioning by the press.

Several Germanwings passengers had their flights delayed or canceled because of disruptions due to the crash, but officials made sure passengers boarding airplanes from Düsseldorf did not panic after hearing about the mishap.

A young student standing at the Germanwings counter for a flight to Madrid said: "I read it in the news and I am flying to Madrid with Germanwings." But the extra effort to keep things functioning smoothly in Düsseldorf gave him some courage. "After all, every plane doesn't crash," he said.

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