herald

Monday 23 October 2017

French locals carve memorial for victims

A polished granite headstone, with the words, 'For the victims of the air disaster of March 24, 2015,' in four different languages, is now the temporary mourning site for the victims' relatives.

It was carved, engraved and erected in the village of Le Vernet in the French Alps, in just one morning, ahead of the arrival of 80 relatives.

Family laid single white roses at the metre-squared memorial in tribute to those who were killed on the horrific crash of Germanwings flight 4U 9525 on Tuesday. Some have left photos of their loved ones while others have left candles.

At a simple ceremony, flags from the victims' home countries were held up and then neatly folded away.

"The families have acknowledged that the crash was not an accident, that it was deliberate," explained Francois Balique, the mayor of Le Vernet.

"At this time they are not looking at the cause of the crash but looking for comfort."

Silence returned to the sleepy villages at the base of the Alps after the chaos of the week.

The world's media has now focused on the home town of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz who deliberately downed the airbus, according to investigators.

FLOWERS

Locals in Seyne, Le Vernet and Selonet slowly began to talk of the devastating turn of events.

"When we knew what he [Lubitz] we did ask, 'why did he do suicide in this way?" said Ann Mauritze a local from Le Vernet, who laid flowers at the memorial. "We just live here but we feel really affected."

"It was not the plane, it was the co-pilot," another local from Seyne said. "I just think that you don't crash a plane if you have depression."

What appeared to be a catastrophic accident has become an unimaginable horror story focusing on the mental health of one man and what went through his mind that day.

Airlines must now answer questions about psychological assessments of pilots and security measures on board.

hnews@herald.ie

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