The bodies of 44 Germans killed in the Germanwings plane that was deliberately crashed in March have been repatriated. After more than two months, families can start burying their loved ones.
A special Lufthansa cargo flight landed in Düsseldorf late on Tuesday evening carrying the remains of the 44 Germans, after departing the southern French city of Marseille.
The Airbus A320 was carrying 150 people, including 72 Germans, when it was deliberately crashed in the French Alps on March 24.
The plane had been heading from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, in western Germany. Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, who had a history of severe depression, has been blamed for intentionally downing the plane.
Among the 44 victims on Tuesday's flight were 16 high school students and their two teachers, from the town of Haltern am See, just north of Düsseldorf. They died in the crash on their way home after a short exchange trip in Spain.
"After this first special flight to Düsseldorf, the other victims will be gradually transferred to their home countries in the coming weeks," said Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings.
Investigators finished identifying the bodies of all 150 people aboard last month. Families of survivors had been angered by reports that the repatriation was to be delayed due to problems with the issuing of death certificates; French authorities later confirmed it would run on schedule, as originally planned.
But a representative for the families said the mix-up had caused an "emotional disaster."
Lead French investigator Brice Robin is due to meet on Thursday with relatives of some of the other victims, to discuss the identification and repatriation of remains.
jr/cmk (AFP, dpa)