Hundreds have gathered in Digne-les-Bains to honor the victims of Tuesday's Germanwings disaster. The co-pilot blamed for the crash often glided not far from the site, according to members of his former gliding club.
Saturday's service at the church in Digne-les-Bains, around 40 kilometers (30 miles) from where Germanwings flight 4U9525 smashed into a cliff on Tuesday, killing all 150 people on board, was a somber ceremony.
Family members and friends of the victims were set to leave the region on Saturday, as details continued to emerge about the man French prosecutors claim "fully intentionally" brought the Airbus A320 to its demise by manually changing its flight path.
It is not known why - or whether - Andreas Lubitz deliberately locked the captain out of the cockpit
Andreas Lubitz, 27, a German citizen who was co-piloting the flight is reported to have suffered from a medical condition. The exact condition is not known. Major German publications Spiegel weekly and Bild daily both reported that the Montabaur native suffered from depression.
Documents seized by investigators during searches of his parents' home in Montabaur, and his apartment in Düsseldorf, showed that Lubitz was written off sick for a period including the day of the crash, and thus was deemed medically unfit to work. The Wall Street Journal quoted a source close to the investigations as saying Lubitz had been given those notes by a neuropsychologist.
According to Germanwings and its parent company, Lufthansa, Lubitz withheld all information about any illness, including the sick leave notices he had been given.
'All will remember my name,' Lubitz apparently told girlfriend
Officials remain perplexed as to how a young man described by an acquaintance as "nice, humorous and polite" could have locked himself in the cockpit while the pilot - who had stepped out momentarily - pounded at the door as the plane swiftly lost altitude.
The black box voice recorder indicates that Lubitz locked his captain out of the cockpit and deliberately set the plane on a descent from a cruising altitude of 11,900 meters (38,000 feet) to 96 meters, in what appears to have been a case of suicide and mass killing.
Rescue operators say no details of victim identification will be released until efforts are completed
According to Saturday's edition of the mass-market paper Bild, an old girlfriend of Lubitz has spoken out about certain megalomaniac statements she remembered him making, as well as possible symptoms of burnout he had apparently demonstrated.
"One day I will do something that will change the whole system, and then all will know my name and remember it," Bild said the woman had heard Lubitz say. She also said his behavior had become so erratic that she had to "end the relationship because it was clear he had a real problem."
Compensation and remembrance
"His performance was without criticism. Nothing was striking," Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said earlier in the week, adding that Lubitz "went through all the medical tests and checks successfully." A spokeswoman for Lufthansa confirmed that the company would compensate the family of each victim with an initial 50,000 euros (54,444 dollars).
Investigators at the crash site continued recovering remains on Saturday across steep mountainous terrain at an altitude of 2,000 meters. Patrick Touron, who is leading the recovery effort, said that information about victim identification would not be made public until the effort was complete.
Touron's unit, he said, was also searching for a second black box that could shed more details on the flight's final moments - after its casing was found empty earlier in the week.
In addition to a litany of remembrance gatherings that have already taken place in North-Rhine Westphalia, the German state where Düsseldorf is located and most of the 75 German victims were from, officials said there would be an official public memorial ceremony on April 17 in Cologne. Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck are expected to attend.