Air crash victims' hometown angry and shocked

2015-03-26 22:24
(Michael Probst, AP)

(Michael Probst, AP)

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Frankfurt - The town and school of the 16 students who died in a plane disaster in the French Alps said they were shocked by the news that the co-pilot may have deliberately crashed the jet.

"Personally, I'm stunned, angry, speechless and deeply shocked by the latest news," said Bodo Klimpel, mayor of the small northwestern town of Haltern where the students went to school.

"I'm asking myself when this nightmare will end," Klimpel told a televised news conference after investigators said they believed the 28-year-old co-pilot of the Germanwings jet, Andreas Lubitz, had deliberately slammed a jet into the French Alps, killing himself and the other 149 people on board.

"It's bad enough for the families to learn of the death of loved ones in an accident. But when it's clear that an individual may possibly have deliberately caused the accident, it takes on an even worse dimension," Klimpel said.

"I don't think we can even begin to imagine it."

The 16 teens - 14 girls and two boys - were among at least 75 Germans who made up half the death toll of 150.

They and their two female teachers had been on a week-long exchange trip near Barcelona, paying a reciprocal visit after Spanish youngsters came in December to Haltern.

The head of their school, the Joseph Koenig Gymnasium, told reporters he had been informed of the latest developments by phone by the regional prime minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, at 13:20, too late to inform the other pupils as lessons had already finished for the day.

But he had informed the school's teachers, and they were "all as stunned as I was", head teacher Ulrich Wessel said.

"If the cause of the crash had been a technical defect, it could have been corrected so as to prevent other incidents happening in future," Wessel said.

"But here there are limits to future incidents being avoided. And that is what makes all of us so angry, that a suicide can lead to the deaths of 149 other people," the ashen-faced teacher said.

"It leaves us angry, perplexed, stunned."

Wessel said he did not want to speculate about what may have driven Lubitz to crash the jet.

"We don't know whether he was psychologically ill, and whether he was in a position to gauge the consequences of his decision. That would be speculation. I can't begin to answer how the parents are feeling," he added.

Read more on:    germanwings  |  germany  |  germanwings crash  |  air crashes  |  aviation

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