The tragic loss of Germanwings flight 4U9525 has been remembered in a memorial service in Cologne Cathedral today.
The Airbus 320 airliner crashed in the French Alps with the loss of 150 people on March 24. It had been en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf.
Evidence from the flight recorders suggests that the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, locked the pilot out of the cockpit before deliberately crashing the plane into the mountainside. It has been revealed that he was receiving treatment for depression, and had been signed off as unfit to work several times, including on the day of the crash.
Around 1400 people, including 500 family members of the victims, attended the ecumenical service, which was led by Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Cologne, and Annette Kurschus, president of the Protestant Church of Westphalia. Screens outside the cathedral relayed the service to many more.
Leading politicians from several countries attended the service, including German chancellor Angela Merkel, German president Joachim Gauck, the Spanish interior minister, Jorge Fernandez Diaz and French transport minister Alain Vidalies.
Fifty French and German rescue workers were also there, and executives, pilots and air stewards of Lufthansa and its budget airline Germanwings, who were asked not to wear their uniforms.
The parents of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz were invited to the service, but chose not to attend.
The service was broadcast live on German television, and flags on official buildings in Germany flew at half mast.
A candle for each of the victims was lit on the altar. Mourners left flowers on the stairways leading to the cathedral, Europe’s largest Gothic church.
The 150 victims – 144 passengers and six crew – were from 18 countries, though most were German or Spanish. They included 16 students and two of their teachers returning from a school exchange trip.
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