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Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
French Alps

Germanwings co-pilot was treated for suicidal tendencies

Andreas Lubitz is understood to have had treatment “several years ago”.

Updated 3.13 pm

Germany France Plane Crash AP / Press Association Images People look at flowers and candles placed in front of the Joseph-Koenig Gymnasium in Haltern, Germany. Warum means Why?. AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

THE CO-PILOT believed to have deliberately crashed a Germanwings plane was treated for suicidal tendencies “several years ago”, before he received his pilot’s licence.

The revelation was made today by Ralf Herrenbrueck of the German prosecutor’s office as investigations continue into the crash that killed 150 people. He added that Andreas Lubitz had shown no such signs recently.

Herrenbruec commented while in the western city of Duesseldorf:

In the ensuing years and up until recently, he had doctors’ visits and was written off sick but showed no sign of suicidal tendencies or aggression towards others.

DNA strands recovered

Investigators picking through the wreckage of the passenger jet that crashed on a remote Alpine mountain said they had found DNA from more than half of the victims, as more details emerged concerning the doomed flight’s last minutes.

Forensic teams announced they had isolated almost 80 distinct DNA strands from body parts at the Germanwings crash site in the French Alps, as recovery personnel continued their grim task following last week’s tragedy.

French officials say the plane’s black box voice recorder indicates that Lubitz, 27, locked the captain out of the cockpit of the Airbus jet and deliberately crashed Flight 4U 9525, bound for Duesseldorf from Barcelona.

Investigators have described the difficulty searching for bodies and a second black box as “unprecedented” due to a combination of mountainous terrain and the violence of the impact.

A daunting task

The plane is said to have crashed at a speed of 700 kilometres per hour, killing all 150 on board instantly.

Prosecutor Brice Robin, one of the lead investigators, said an access road was being built to the site to allow all-terrain vehicles to remove some of the larger parts of the plane and help transport bodies.

He said forensic experts had identified 78 different DNA strands.

“We haven’t found a single body intact,” said Patrick Touron, deputy director of the police’s criminal research institute.

We have slopes of 40 to 60 degrees, falling rocks, and ground that tends to crumble.
Some things have to be done by abseiling. Since safety is key, the recovery process is a bit slow, which is a great regret.

Most body parts were being winched up to helicopters and transported to a lab in the nearby town of Seynes, where a 50-strong team of forensic doctors, dentists and police identification specialists is working.

France Plane Crash Recovery AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Between 400 and 600 body parts were being examined, Touron said.

“In catastrophes, normally around 90%of identifications are done through dental records,” he added, but in the case of flight 9525, DNA was likely to play a greater role than normal.

Once DNA samples have been taken, they are sent to another lab outside Paris where they are compared with samples taken from family members this week.

Final moments

Captain Yves Naffrechoux, a mountain ranger, said finding the second black box — the flight data recorder which logs all technical data — was a priority.

Germany’s Bild newspaper reported more details on Sunday about the flight’s final moments, which CNN has published a translation of.

It said the captain, which it identified as Patrick S, shouted at the co-pilot to “open the damn door” as he desperately tried to get back into the locked cockpit after leaving to use the toilet.

The Bild tabloid and the New York Times have reported that Lubitz had sought treatment for problems with his sight.

Germany France Plane Crash AP / Press Association Images Investigators carry boxes from the apartment of Germanwings airliner jet co-pilot Andreas Lubitz. AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Police have found a number “of medicines for the treatment of psychological illness” during a search at his Duesseldorf home, Welt am Sonntag newspaper said.

It added that the Germanwings co-pilot was suffering from stress and severe depression, according to personal notes found.

German prosecutors revealed on Friday that searches of Lubitz’s homes netted “medical documents that suggest an existing illness and appropriate medical treatment”, including “torn-up and current sick leave notes, among them one covering the day of the crash”.

© AFP 2015.

Read: Captain shouted ‘open the damn door’ as jet plunged into Alps >

More: Germanwings crash pilot told ex-girlfriend ‘everyone will know my name’ >

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