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Alps crash victims identified by week’s end, Hollande says

Christophe Ena, POOL/ AFP | Forensic scientists collect DNA taken from the body parts of victims of the crash of a A320 Germanwings jetliner, outside Paris, on March 30, 2015

French President François Hollande said Tuesday that all of the victims of the Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps will likely be identified by the end of the week. Nationals from more than a dozen countries were on board the doomed flight.

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“The French interior minister confirmed that by the end of the week, at the latest, it will be possible to identify all of the victims thanks to DNA samples,” Hollande said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

The Airbus A320 was travelling from Barcelona to Dusseldorf on March 24 when it crashed into a mountain in the French Alps with 150 people on board.

Authorities at the crash site are poring over the DNA evidence that has been painstakingly collected from among the debris scattered across the steep mountainside.

Workers with backhoes and tractors are building a road up to 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) long to reach the remote crash site to help speed up the investigation. Recovery crews have had to helicopter in and be tethered to local mountaineers to avoid slipping down the rocky slope.

France has deployed some 500 gendarmes and emergency workers to secure the crash site, search for human remains, examine evidence and help the traumatised relatives, who have arrived in France by the hundreds.

Around 500 people attended a religious ceremony on Saturday in the French town of Digne-les-Bains, about 40 kilometres south of the remote Alpine crash zone.

Candles for each of the victims were placed in front of the cathedral's altar.

Germany is to hold a national memorial ceremony on April 17 for the victims of the disaster, half of whom were German, with Spanish nationals accounting for at least 50 others and the remainder composed of more than a dozen other nationalities.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP and AFP)

 

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