Despite tough conditions for recovery teams, the French president has said that all Germanwings victims will be identified within days. Efforts to give families closure has kept authorities mobilized around-the-clock.
It appears likely all victims of last Tuesday's Germanwings air crash will be identified by the week's end, French President Francois Hollande has said. All 150 people on board Germanwings flight 4U9525 died after it crashed into the French Alps near Seyne-les-Alpes on March 24.
Speaking at a press conference in Berlin on Tuesday, Hollande described the combined efforts with forensic scientists at the base camp as "exceptional."
"By the end of the week at the latest, it will be possible to identify all the victims," Hollande said, relaying information provided to him by his interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve.
The joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel followed a meeting of the two leaders, whose governments have found themselves working together more intensively since the start of the year. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Paris and Berlin traded security information and, now, with the Germanwings crash on French soil, they must once again combine efforts.
Merkel thanked Hollande for his country's "big-hearted welcome" to the families and spoke of a special "German-French brotherhood" which linked the two nations.
Shortly after the press conference, authorities in Seyne-les-Alpes also praised efforts in the Alpine town, where many of its residents have provided an abode for the families of the victims.
"The exceptional mobilization" would continue through the upcoming Easter holidays, a spokeswoman representing the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence told reporters on Tuesday. She added that police would also continue providing support to the victims' loved ones and protecting their privacy.
Investigators eye 'systemic weaknesses'
Audio recorded by the first black box has led investigators to believe that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz purposely flew the A320 into a mountainside while en route from Barcelona to Düsseldorf. The case has fueled media speculation about Lubitz's mental health and airline safety.
France's aviation investigators, known as BEA, said on Tuesday, that its agency would probe both psychological profiling and cockpit doors. The pilot on board the Germanwings flight was reportedly unable to open the security door, despite entering an emergency code reserved for flight personnel.
Audio from the first black box provided evidence forthe current theory of how the plane crashed. However, investigators still must locate the second black box for flight data information in order to reach a more definitive conclusion
"The Safety Investigation will be oriented towards the cockpit door locking system logic and cockpit access and exit procedures, as well as the criteria and procedures applied to detect specific psychological profiles," BEA said in a statement.
"[We will study] systemic weaknesses [that] might possibly have led to this aviation disaster," it added.
Lufthansa cancels 60th anniversary
Germanwings' parent company, Lufthansa, announced on Tuesday that it had canceled its upcoming anniversary celebrating six decades "out of respect for the victims of the [crash]."
A memorial service is scheduled for April 17 at the Cologne cathedral in Germany's western state of North-Rhine Westphalia, where many of the victims, including a class of 16 high school students, were from. Lufthansa executives are to attend.
The aviation company has reserved $300 million (297 million euros) in compensation for the airline disaster.
kms/jr (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)