A lead investigator into the Germanwings plane crash has called for anyone with footage of the disaster to hand it over to authorities, amid media reports that a video recovered from the wreckage recorded the last seconds of the flight.
French police said on Wednesday they were not aware of such a video at this stage and cautioned that journalists may have fallen prey to a distasteful April Fool’s hoax.
French magazine Paris Match and German daily Bild reported earlier that they had seen a video taken from a mobile phone that belonged to one of the passengers of the flight, which crashed in the French Alps last week, killing all 150 people on board.
Paris Match, which chose not to publish the video, described the scene as chilling and chaotic, with passengers screaming and crying « 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,” Paris Match wrote on its website. “Towards the end, after a heavy shake, stronger than the others, the screaming intensifies. Then nothing.”
French prosecutor Brice Robin said mobile phones had indeed been collected from the crash site but none had yet been sent to experts for analysis.
“In the event that somebody has in his possession such a video, he should hand it over to investigators immediately, » he said in a statement.
French police officials have cast doubts over the authenticity of the video. But both Paris Match and Bild said it was “unquestionable” and that the footage had been retrieved from the wreckage of the crash by “a source close to the inquiry.”
In an interview, Paris Match journalist Frederic Helbert said he did not own a copy of the video he saw. He said it appeared to have been filmed from the back of the airplane.
Aviation crash experts say it is technically possible that exploitable data from mobile phones and SIM cards was salvaged from the site, even as the plane was pulverised into thousands of small pieces when it crashed.
Stephane Gicquel, head of a French support group for victims of disasters, told Le Figaro newspaper that investigators in Laos had found footage on the crash site of a domestic flight that plunged into the Mekong river in 2013. The footage was eventually handed over to the families of the victims, he said.
The head of Germanwings and the boss of parent company Lufthansa visited the scene of the crash in the French Alps on Wednesday. But they refused to answer any questions about German copilot Andreas Lubitz, who is believed to have deliberately slammed the plane into the mountains.