Germanwings plane crash: Magazine insists video 'showing screaming passengers in last moments before impact' is real

Officials said they had not seen the footage but did not rule out its existence

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The Independent Online

A French magazine has insisted a video apparently taken by one of the victims of the Germanwings disaster during the plane’s final moments is not fake.

Paris Match revealed details about the footage alongside German newspaper Bild, with both outlets saying their reporters had viewed it.

The film was reportedly recovered from the crash site in the French Alps on mobile phone memory chip obtained by “a source close to the investigation”.

Marseille Prosecutor Brice Robin, who is overseeing the French probe into the crash, initially cast doubt on the claim by saying that investigators found no such video.

But in a statement on Wednesday, he left open the possibility that it existed and had not been given to authorities.

“In the hypothesis that someone is in possession of such a video, he or she should submit it immediately to investigators,” he added.

A Paris Match reporter who saw the video, Frédéric Helbert, said on the magazine's website today that he was “offered the possibility to view it” through intermediaries linked to rescue workers sifting through wreckage.

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Germanwings Thomas Winkelmann, left, and Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr visited the crash site on Wednesday

His report described people screaming “my God” in several languages, as well as metallic banging – thought to be the flight’s captain desperately trying to open the cockpit door with a crowbar.

Paris Match said the “chaotic” and blurred scenes made it difficult to identify passengers but the screaming made it “perfectly clear that they were aware of what was about to happen to them”.

The screaming is said to intensify after a heavy shake as the aircraft careers towards the mountain, possibly showing the moment its right wing was struck.

Mr Helbert said he had watched the “harrowing” film, which was shot from the back of the plane, dozens of times with the Paris Match editorial team.

He was most affected by the “atrocious” sounds on the film.

“It shows the human dimension of panic, distress, screaming people on board,” he added. “This is why we chose not to diffuse the video.”

Mr Helbert rebuffed accusations that the video was fake, saying that if police had not yet accessed data from salvaged mobile phone parts “there is a problem in the investigation”. 

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Preliminary black box evidence indicated that Andreas Lubitz locked himself inside the cockpit and downed the plane

Paris Match was unable to turn over the evidence to authorities because they were only shown it and do not have a copy to pass on, he said.

Bild also stood by the video’s authenticity, saying that “even though the scene on board is chaotic and completely shaky, and no individual person can be identified, the accuracy of the video is beyond question”.

Lufthansa has admitted being informed of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz’s treatment for depression six years after he barricaded himself inside the cockpit and ploughed the plane into the French Alps at 430mph.

The 27-year-old underwent 18 months of psychiatric therapy for “suicidal tendencies” during his flight training but was subsequently found fit to operate planes in examinations.

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French gendarmes work near debris from the wreckage showing a German flag at the crash site of an Airbus A320, near Seyne-les-Alpes

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr and the head of its low-cost subsidiary Germanwings, Thomas Winkelmann, visited the crash site today amid mounting questions about how much the airlines knew about co-pilot Mr Lubitz's psychological state.

The two men laid flowers and then stood silently facing a stone monument to the plane's 150 victims that looks toward the French mountains with a memorial message in German, Spanish, French and English.

Mr Spohr said the airline is “learning more every day” about what might have led to the crash but “it will take a long, long time to understand how this could happen.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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