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France Pledges to Identify All Air Crash Victims Within Days

  • VOA News

Flags representing different nations are deployed during a ceremony in front of a memorial for victims in the area where the Germanwings jetliner crashed in the French Alps, Le Vernet, France, March 3, 2015.

Flags representing different nations are deployed during a ceremony in front of a memorial for victims in the area where the Germanwings jetliner crashed in the French Alps, Le Vernet, France, March 3, 2015.

French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday all 150 people killed aboard the passenger jet that crashed into the French Alps last Tuesday will be identified by DNA samples by the end of this week.

The French leader made the announcement as searchers stepped up efforts to scour the remote mountainside where authorities said Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed the A320 passenger jet.

Searchers are still looking for one of the plane's two flight recorders — the "black box" that could contain crucial data about the last minutes of the flight from Barcelona, Spain, to the German city of Dusseldorf.

Officials opened a new road to the crash site in southeastern France, which was initially accessible only by helicopter.

"On the site we don't exceed 35 people for safety reasons," said French police spokesman Jean-Marc Menichini. "The search for the 'black box' will last as long as necessary, but we hope to find it by the 8th of April. Concerning the bodies, we hope all of the DNA samples will be recovered within 24 hours."

Lufthansa, owner of the budget airline Germanwings, said its insurers have set aside $300 million to cover damage claims stemming from the crash, payments to relatives of the victims and the cost of the jet itself.

Germanwings said it is immediately paying families of the victims $54,000 apiece, a sum that is not being deducted from any later settlement.

French prosecutors said Monday that Lubitz had suicidal tendencies in the past, but appeared to be stable at the time of the March 24 crash..

The co-pilot was treated in the past for "suicidal tendencies" several years ago and before he got his pilot's license, the Dusseldorf prosecutor's spokesman said.

"Since then, and until the end, there were further doctors' visits with sick notes," spokesman Christoph Kumpa said. "But there were no more diagnoses of suicidal tendencies or aggressive behavior."

French officials said the plane's cockpit voice recorder indicates that the 27-year-old Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit before deliberately setting the plane to descend into the mountainside.

Prosecutors say they have not yet found any motive for his action.

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