Victims' families mark anniversary of Germanwings crash

  • 25/03/2016
Victims' families look at the crash site in Le Vernet on the first anniversary of the crash (Reuters)
Victims' families look at the crash site in Le Vernet on the first anniversary of the crash (Reuters)

One year after the Germanwings aeroplane crash, hundreds of the victims' relatives have hiked through the French Alps to the crash site.

All 150 people on board the A320 jet were killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately flew it into a French mountainside on a flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf on March 24, 2015.

After a private ceremony in the small village of Le Vernet, many relatives were given the chance to walk up to the site of the crash itself.

Victims' families mark anniversary of Germanwings crash

Victims' relatives mark the first anniversary of the tragedy at the crash site (Reuters)

French rescuers opened a path last year which now allows people to visit the valley into which the airliner plunged.

Ximena Alegria lost her sister Jimenez a year ago. She said despite the sorrow, it was a relief to see the exact spot where her sister's life had ended.

"It's a mix of many feelings, on one hand the sadness of all that's happened and on the other we now know what's happened, we can now realise that it's all true, that it happened here and now we can start going forward again," she said on her way to the crash site.

French and German authorities laid wreaths in Le Vernet at a tomb containing bodies that could not be identified.

Lufthansa's chief executive Carsten Spohr and Germanwings chief executive at the time of the crash, Thomas Winkelmann, also laid a wreath.

Norberto Ariza, who lost his son Nolberto in the disaster, came with his daughter and grandchild.

"It was my child, my eldest child, a chemical engineer, I worked hard raising him, it was a lot of work, but sometimes that's how life is," he said.

Victims' families mark anniversary of Germanwings crash

Roses at the site of the Germanwings crash in the French Alps (Reuters)

Over 600 relatives earlier gathered for a ceremony, where a minute of silence was marked at 10:41 (9:41am GMT), the moment the plane hit the mountainside.

"(The families) are very sad, but you also feel that it is a second year starting for them, so there isn't this pain or this hopelessness which they were feeling.

"The ceremony was so solemn that it appeased them a bit to know that the people of this village and of Pratz (small village close to crash site) and of Seyne hadn't forgotten them or the accident, and that for Lufthansa and all the organisations which worked around this, it wasn't just anonymous deaths, but that they had become friends, people over which we now look after," said Joelle Balique, the wife of Le Vernet's mayor.

The families were all due to leave Le Vernet by coach at the end of the day.