French officials cast doubt on purported video of Germanwings flight’s final moments
Footage is ‘real,’ Paris Match and Bild editors say; police official calls it a ‘fake’
Two European newspapers are standing by their reports that a cellphone video showing what happened inside a Germanwings plane during the final seconds of ill-fated Flight 9525 was found among the wreckage, even as French officials cast doubt on its authenticity.
The Paris Match and Bild newspapers claim to have jointly obtained the footage, which was reportedly discovered at the crash site. Paris Match said the 14-second video captures the chaos of the plane’s final moments:
The scene was so chaotic that it was hard to identify people, but the sounds of the screaming passengers made it perfectly clear that they were aware of what was about to happen to them. One can hear cries of “My God” in several languages. Metallic banging can also be heard more than three times, perhaps of the pilot trying to open the cockpit door with a heavy object. Towards the end, after a heavy shake, stronger than the others, the screaming intensifies. Then nothing.
But a French police official told NBC News that the claims are not true.
“The video claim by Paris Match is false. It is a fake,” the official said. “There is no such video.”
Lt. Col. Jean-Marc Menichini, a spokesman for the French Gendarmerie, told CNN that Paris Match and Bild were “completely wrong” and called their reports “unwarranted.”
Menichini said cellphones have been collected from the site but that they “hadn't been exploited yet.”
French prosecutor Brice Robin said that he did not know of any cellphone video collected at the crash site.
“All are for now being kept at Seynes-les-Alpes,” Robin told Reuters. “If people at the site have picked up mobile phones, I am not aware of it.”
Neither paper published the video, but editors who viewed the footage did not back down from their initial reports.
“I’m convinced this is real,” Régis Le Sommier, deputy editor of Paris Match, said on NBC’s “Today” show. “We’ve checked and investigated, and were pretty positive about our source, which is close to the investigation team. So there is no doubt what we saw were the final seconds of what happened on board of Airbus 320 of Germanwings.”
Julian Reichelt, editor-in-chief of Bild Online, told CNN the video “was shown to us by a reporter who is known for his great sources.”
If genuine, the footage would appear to confirm a previously published account given to Bild by an investigator who described hearing loud metallic noises and passengers’ screams on a cockpit voice recording recovered last week.
According to that report, part of which appears below, passengers could be heard running through the aisles as the captain tried to break down the cockpit door with a crowbar:
10:35 a.m. The captain asks for the crowbar hidden in the back of the plane. Louder bangs can be heard hitting the door, followed by metallic sounds. The captain tries to bend the door with the crowbar.
10:37 a.m. A second alarm is set off, audible and visual: “TERRAIN, PULL UP.” Still no reaction from Lubitz. The captain yells: “Open this f… door!”
10:38 a.m. Despite the deafening noises, Lubitz’s breathing can cleary [sic] be heard through an oxygen mask he put on. He is breathing normally. The plane is at 13000 feet (4000 meters).
10:40 a.m. A violent sound can be heard outside. At the same time, inside, screaming. The Airbus hits the mountain with its right wing. No other sound, save for the alarms and the screaming passengers.
Investigators believe that Andreas Lubitz, the 27-year-old co-pilot, locked his captain out of the cockpit and deliberately slammed the plane into the French Alps on March 24, killing all 150 people on board.
Earlier Tuesday, Germanwings’ parent company, Lufthansa, said Lubitz informed the airline in 2009 that he had previously suffered from severe depression.
On Monday, German prosecutors said Lubitz was diagnosed as suicidal “several years ago,” but that doctors had recently found no sign that he intended to hurt himself or others and declared him fit to fly.