Lufthansa starts repatriating the remains of Alps crash victims

Spanish relatives of around 45 passengers want to reach an out-of-court settlement

Rescue workers have managed to find remains of the 150 people on board the Germanwings flight that crashed on March 24.
Rescue workers have managed to find remains of the 150 people on board the Germanwings flight that crashed on March 24.Laurent Cipriani (AP)

The remains of the victims of the Germanwings flight that crashed into the Alps in March are being repatriated to their home towns.

Lufthansa, the parent company of the budget airline, has been contacting relatives for the last week, and asking where they want the remains sent.

A criminal probe is underway in France, where families of the victims may form part of a private prosecution

On May 15, a commission finished identifying the 150 victims, although authorities have warned that there is very little biological material to give families, as the plane and its occupants were virtually pulverized.

Around 50 Spaniards were on the flight making the Barcelona-Düsseldorf route on the morning of March 24. The investigation has since revealed that the co-pilot appears to have deliberately crashed the aircraft into the mountainside in an effort to commit suicide. He had already rehearsed the plan on the incoming flight from Germany by forcing the plane to make sudden altitude drops. The crash investigation is still underway.

Germanwings passenger traffic plummets in Spain

Miguel González

Germanwings is one of the airlines that has experienced the greatest growth in Spain in the last few years. In 2014 it ranked in the top 20 in terms of passenger traffic, according to figures released by AENA, the airport operator. In the first quarter of 2015, the budget airline was posting 45% growth. But following the plane crash in the Alps, this rate has dropped to six percent.

Among the list of 150 passengers there were also 16 German students who were going home after an exchange program with Catalan families in Llinars del Vallés (Barcelona). The Spanish victims include a man from Lorca (Murcia), two workers from the convention center Fira de Barcelona and two more from Delphi auto parts manufacturer, the Catalan daily La Vanguardia reported.

Xavier Prats, the legal representative for the family of Maurice Yaya Kobina, a Lérida-based entrepreneur, is asking Lufthansa to send his remains to his native country of Ivory Coast.

Prats will also be negotiating compensation for his relatives over the next few days. Most families have expressed a desire not to go to trial, but to reach an out-of-court settlement with the airline and “turn the page.”

A criminal probe is underway in France, where families of the victims may participate as part of a private prosecution if they so wish.

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