The operation to recover debris of the crashed Germanwings plane in the French Alps has ended, according to French military police. The next step is the decontamination of the area.
"The process of collecting all the parts of the wreck has been completed; now we are entering the phase of decontamination," Captain Benoit Zeisser of the gendarmerie said on Monday in the French village of Seyne-les-Alpes.
A police source said pulverized fragments of the Airbus 320 were being stored in a hangar near the crash site in the Alps. Collecting the wreckage of Germanwings plane 4U9525 took more than two weeks, but the decontamination of the area in the French Alps will be a much longer process, according to local authorities. First, experts have to analyze which parts of the soil were contaminated by toxic substances.
Lufthansa representative Carsten Hernig, who is tasked with the cleanup and restoration of the crash site, told the French newspaper Le Figaro that there were about four tons of kerosene on board the plane. "Our goal is to complete all the works before winter comes, because afterwards the snow will make any operation impossible," he said.
All 150 people on board the Germanwings flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf were killed in the crash on March 24, including 72 Germans and 50 Spaniards. Investigators believe the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, who had a history of depression, deliberately steered the plane into a mountain in the French Alps after locking the captain out of the cockpit.
Ripped up sick notes were found in a flat used by Lubitz, which authorities believed indicated that the young co-pilot was trying to hide his illness from his employer.
das/rc (dpa, AFP, Reuters)