Germanwings Crash: Search Crews Isolate DNA, Seek Second Black Box

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Airplanes' contrails streak the sky close to where a Germanwings plane crashed last week, in Seyne les Alpes, France. (Getty Images)
Airplanes' contrails streak the sky close to where a Germanwings plane crashed last week, in Seyne les Alpes, France. (Getty Images)

Crews have located the remains of 78 people at the site of last week's Germanwings airline crash, where the search for the plane's flight data recorder continues. To aid the recovery effort, an access road is being built into the remote area in the French Alps where the plane crashed, killing 150 people.

Prosecutors believe co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, deliberately crashed the jetliner after locking the pilot out of the cockpit. He was reportedly being treated for depression. And over the weekend, news emerged that Lubutz may also have had vision problems that could have cost him his pilot's license.

"A road to the crash site should be completed by tomorrow," NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports for Morning Edition from Paris. "Until now, shifts of emergency workers have had to be lowered onto the mountainside by helicopter. There they continue to comb through a five-acre area of wreckage."

German media say the flight voice recorder, which was found at the crash site, shows the pilot was desperate to get back in the cockpit.

NPR's Lauren Frayer reports:

"'Open the door! For God's sake, open this door!' the pilot is said to scream, using an ax to try to chop his way back into the plane's cockpit, after leaving on a break. Prosecutors say co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked him out, cut off communications with air traffic control and intentionally crashed the plane."

Lauren adds:

"The crash wreckage is dotted with red flags, marking partial human remains. Officials say they've isolated 78 strands of distinct DNA from the crash victims. They're asking families for dental records and DNA samples to try to positively identify their loved ones. State funerals are planned for next month in Barcelona, where the plane took off, and at a cathedral in Cologne, Germany."

In the week since the crash, several countries have announced new policies that say at least two airline personnel must remain in the cockpit at all times. Australia announced its version of those rules today.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright NPR. View this article on npr.org.