Black box from A320 damaged but will yield information, says minister

Recovery efforts restarted this morning at the crash site at first light Spain to send six police officers and civil guards to assist with the identification of victims

Debris of the crashed Germanwings passenger jet is scattered on the mountainside.
Debris of the crashed Germanwings passenger jet is scattered on the mountainside.Claude Paris (AP)

The French Interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, announced today that the black box from the Airbus A320 that crashed on Tuesday in the French Alps, is damaged. But, he explained, it would be possible to analyze it, Carlos Yárnoz reports. In an interview with French broadcaster RTL, the minister said data could be reconstructed from the box, which recorded the conversations of the pilots. The plane, which was headed from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, crashed shortly after 11am for reasons that are still unknown.

At first light on Wednesday, rescue teams restarted their recovery mission searching for the victims of the air crash. Nearly 500 people, among them gendarmes, fire crews, members of the armed forces and technical personnel are all in the remote area of the French Alps where Germanwings flight GWI9525 crashed.

It will take days to recover the victims” French police officer Jean-Paul Bloy

The flight operated by the low-cost German airline was carrying 144 passengers – including 67 Germans and 45 people with Spanish surnames – and six crew members. None of them survived the impact. The causes of the accident remain unknown, although the recovery of one of the flight’s black boxes on Tuesday will prove key to determining what happened.

The movement of emergency vehicles was intensified from 7am onwards, as soon as the sun came up in Seyne-les-Alpes, which is just a few kilometers from the crash site and where the emergency crews are working.

A spokesperson for the French Interior Ministry, Pierre-Henry Brandet, announced that the ground was being prepared for helicopter flights to restart, news agency Efe reported.

A column of gendarmes headed to the zone on foot, after having to suspend their recovery work on Tuesday due to the snowy conditions. The authorities are trying to create a path to the area where the remains of the Airbus A320 are scattered. The zone was being guarded on Tuesday night by five gendarmes.

During the night the area saw heavy snow, and there are concerns that the weather conditions on Wednesday will not favor rescue work. While the clouds are very high, helping the helicopters, there is a chance of rain and windy conditions during the day, according to meteorological services.

“It will take days to recover the victims,” explained police official Jean-Paul Bloy. Spain is due to send six police officers and civil guards to the site to assist with the identification of victims.

Pilots and engineers all agree on the strange circumstances of the incident

Some witnesses claim to have seen the plane descend intact, and with no signs of fire or smoke. The plane, in that case would have disintegrated on the ground.

An inhabitant of Vernet, the town closest to the crash site, visited the area, taking a dozen gendarmes there, according to local paper La Provence. “From the port of Mariaud, I could see the remains of the plane,” the witness said. “For me there is no doubt that the plane crashed into the mountain.”

Pilots and engineers all agree on the strange circumstances of the incident, given that the majority of air crashes happen upon takeoff or landing. It is much rarer for a plane to suffer such a crash while cruising.


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