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Families of Germanwings crash victims attend memorial in Cologne

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By Sarah Taylor  with AP, Reuters
Families of Germanwings crash victims attend memorial in Cologne

Almost a month after the fatal Germanwings crash in the French Alps, around 500 grief-stricken family-members of the victims attended a state memorial service in Cologne.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck were among the congregation in the German city, also home to the Germanwings headquarters.

Gauck, a former pastor, had tears in his eyes as he prepared to address the congregation.

“Sadness and pain need time until we can feel some comfort and we can move on in our lives,” he said. “Until then, the only thing that helps is knowing and feeling that we’re not alone, that we feel that somebody is accompanying us and carrying us.”

Candles were lit in memory of each of the 150 who died in the March 24 crash, 72 of whom were German citizens. This figure includes the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, who is suspected of deliberately bringing the plane down and who, prosecutors say, was suffering from an illness on the day of the crash and should not have been flying.

Shortly after the crash, Lufthansa, Germanwings’ parent company, announced it would put off celebrations for its 60th anniversary, which had been planned for April 15. Instead, it decided to show live coverage of the memorial service.