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Germanwings Passenger Video Is Authentic, French Magazine Says

A video filmed by a passenger on the Germanwings flight 4U925 purportedly shows the final seconds inside of the cabin before the plane crashed into a mountainside in the French Alps. 

Although French officials have denied the authenticity of the video, French magazine Paris Match insist it is real. 

The Guardian report:

Questions have been raised about the veracity of the video after a senior French police spokesman said the magazine’s story was false and the French state prosecutor said no video footage had yet featured in the inquiry evidence. The spokesman added that if any film were to exist it should immediately be handed to investigators.

Paris Match stood by its story, written in collaboration with the German newspaper Bild. Neither publication broadcast the footage but instead described the “totally blurred and chaotic” scenes.

They claimed the film showed how the passengers were aware of their fate in the last moments of the Barcelona to Düsseldorf flight, which crashed into the mountainside at 435mph last Tuesday, killing all 150 people on board. Prosecutors in France and Germany have suggested that the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, deliberately crashed the plane.

In a video interview on the Paris Match website, Frédéric Helbert, the senior investigative reporter who wrote the story, said he and the editorial team had watched the “chilling” and “moving” film dozens of times. He said it had been shot by someone at the back of the plane and did not identify passengers, who were all seated.

Helbert said he was most struck by the sound on the film, which he described as “the human dimension of panic, distress, the screams of people on the plane”.

“That’s what’s awful,” he said, and for that reason Paris Match had chosen not to broadcast the video. He said he had been able to view the footage after “long investigative work” which involved accessing different intermediaries connected to people who were working on the ground. He described it as a “perfectly valid” document.

Responding to the police charge that the video was false, Helbert asked whether the police had seen it. On the police and prosecutor’s charge that mobile phone evidence from the crash site had not yet been analysed, he said that would suggest there was a problem with the inquiry and it was high time the analysis of phone evidence began.

On the issue of handing the footage to investigators, he stressed that Paris Match was not in possession of the footage, but had simply viewed it.

In its articles, Paris Match and Bild described the sound of screaming passengers and that of metallic banging , possibly that of the pilot attempting to open the cockpit door with a heavy object.

People were heard crying “My God” in several languages, Paris Match wrote. Near the end there was reportedly a heavy shake and the cabin tilted sharply to one side. After further screams the video ended, Bild said.

“The scene was so chaotic that it was hard to identify people, but the sounds of the screaming passengers made it perfectly clear that they were aware of what was about to happen to them,” the Paris Match article said.

Bild reported that the video had been found by “a source close to the investigation” and had been retrieved from the wreckage.

When the story of the video broke, Lt Col Jean-Marc Menichini, of the French gendarmerie, denied that investigators had found mobile phone footage at the crash site, telling CNN the reports were “completely wrong” and “unwarranted”.

The Marseille state prosecutor Brice Robin, who is handling the case in France, said in a statement that the inquiry evidence did not include any video footage from the flight. He said: “Hypothetically, if anyone were to have any such video, they should immediately hand it over to investigators.”

Robin told Reuters that none of the mobile telephones collected at the crash site had been sent for analysis. “All are for now being kept at Seynes-les-Alpes. If people at the site have picked up mobile phones, I am not aware of it.”

Lufthansa said it did not know if any such video existed or not, but questioned whether a mobile phone could have withstood the impact.

A spokesman for the company said: “We have also read of reports in a French newspaper about the video. But we have not seen the video and we do not know if it exists. Therefore we cannot confirm if the video is genuine.

“Considering that everything on the plane was destroyed, it would be unusual for a mobile phone to survive the impact.”

In its coverage, Paris Match also published an account of a conversation between the two pilots, which it said had been reported to them by a “special investigator” with access to the cockpit voice recorder.

The magazine reported that during the flight the captain said to Lubitz: “I didn’t have time to use the bathroom before taking off.” Lubitz replied: “Go whenever you’d like.”

When the captain left the cockpit to go to the toilet, he told Lubitz: “You are in control now.” Lubitz answered “with a seemingly light tone of voice”, according to Paris Match: “I hope so.”

Later the captain implored Lubitz to let him back into the cockpit, shouting and trying to get in. Several alarms were going off, seemingly ignored.

On Wednesday the chief executive of Lufthansa, Carsten Spohr, and the chief executive of Germanwings, Thomas Winkelmann, visited a memorial stone in the hamlet of Le Vernet, the nearest inhabited place to the crash site, and thanked the rescue teams.

Spohr did not answer questions about Lufthansa’s admission that it knew six years ago that Lubitz suffered from a “serious depressive episode”.

All human remains have been removed from the site, French officials said, and work is under way on the DNA identification process. A spokesman said only “belongings and pieces of metal” remained.

Officials at France’s national criminal laboratory near Paris say it will take a few months until the identification process is completed and the remains are returned to the families.