Over a week after the Germanwings crash, new threads continue to fuel the saga, further muddying an already untidy story. On Tuesday, Lufthansa disclosed that the airline had known of pilot Andreas Lubitz's struggles with depression. Details about the audio contents of the plane's blackbox have slowly leaked out over the past several days, and on Wednesday, reports emerged that the harrowing final seconds before the crash may have been captured on video.
Is the Video Authentic?
The German daily Bild reported that it had procured video of the final seconds of the fatal crash. "The scenes seen on the video were chaotic and very wobbly," Reuters reported of Bild's claims, adding that "screams and shouts of 'My God' could be heard, indicating the passengers knew what was happening."
The French magazine Paris Match also said that the video is authentic, but had chosen not to make the footage available on its website because of the graphic imagery.
Some have cast doubt on the newspapers' claims. Lt. Col. Jean-Marc Menichini, the spokesman for the investigation of the crash site, told CNN that the reports were "completely wrong" and "unwarranted" and that the cellphones collected at the crash site hadn't been viewed yet. French prosecutor Brice Robin added, "Hypothetically, if anyone were to have any such video, they should immediately hand it over to investigators."
A Lufthansa spokesman said, “Considering that everything on the plane was destroyed, it would be unusual for a mobile phone to survive the impact.”
What a Video Would Mean
The emergence of a possible video could reveal many more details about what happened on the doomed flight before it crashed. We could learn what efforts were made to override the controls of the cockpit door, which alarms had been triggered within the aircraft, and at what point the passengers on the plane became aware of what was happening.
The very possibility of a video also underscores the extent to which the facts of what actually happened remain unknown. According to Paris Match, new details from the cockpit's audio recording suggest that the transfer of control of the plane to Lubitz happened after the pilot left the controls to go to the bathroom.
The Paris Match report also provides a stirring timeline of the plane's final moments, such as this one:
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...
The release of a dramatic pre-crash video could drastically impact insurance claims. Lufthansa's insurers have already set aside $300 million to cover possible costs.
A Grim Anniversary for Lufthansa
On Wednesday, the chief executives of Germanwings and Lufthansa visited the Germanwings crash site and gave a press conference. Questions about what the airline knew about Lubitz's depression were reportedly ignored.
The visit came just a day after Lufthansa said that it had found an e-mail from Lubitz explaining his extended absence from the company's pilot training program in a medical document. The e-mail described a "previous episode of severe depression.”
"It will take a long time for all of us to understand," Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said of the crash on Wednesday. His remarks were delivered on the day the company had planned to celebrate its 60th birthday.