(AP) BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors say the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 appears to have researched suicide methods and cockpit door security in the days before the plane crashed last week.
Duesseldorf prosecutors said Thursday investigators found a tablet computer at Andreas Lubitz’s apartment. They said they were able to reconstruct searches from March 16 to March 23.
Investigators believe the 27-year-old Lubitz locked his captain out of the A320’s cockpit on March 24 and deliberately crashed the plane. All 150 on board died.
Prosecutors’ spokesman Ralf Herrenbrueck said in a statement that search terms included medical treatment and suicide methods. On at least one day, the co-pilot looked at search terms involving cockpit doors and their security methods.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
Investigators are examining cellphones found in the debris of the jet crash in the French Alps for clues about what happened, authorities said Thursday. A French reporter who says he saw such cellphone video described the excruciating sound of “screaming and screaming” as the plane flew full-speed into a mountain.
No video or audio from the cellphones of the 150 people aboard the plane who were killed in the March 24 crash has been released publicly.
Questions persist about journalist Frederic Helbert’s reports in the French magazine Paris-Match and in the German tabloid Bild this week about the video that he says he saw. Helbert vigorously defended his reports in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press.
Authorities initially said no cellphone video had been found from the Germanwings A320 that crashed into the French Alps. But Marseille Prosecutor Brice Robin left open the possibility that such video might exist but hadn’t been turned over to investigators.
On Thursday, Lt. Col. Jean-Marc Menichini told The AP that search teams have found cellphones, but they haven’t been thoroughly examined yet. He would not elaborate.
Special mountain troops continued searching the area Thursday for personal belongings and the second black box flight recorder. Investigators believe co-pilot Andreas Lubitz intentionally crashed the plane into a mountainside, based on recordings from the cockpit voice recorder.
Helbert said he viewed the video thanks to an intermediary close to the investigation, but does not have a copy himself. The publications chose not to release the video, he said, “because it had no value regarding the investigation but it could have been something terrible for families.”
The video was shot from the back of the plane, he said, so “You cannot see their faces, but you can hear them screaming and screaming.”
“No one is moving or getting up,” he told the AP in Paris. “What was awful, what is imprinted in my memory, is the sound.”
Amid the chaos, he said, he could distinguish “a German word, perhaps a bit of Spanish … You hear `my God, my God’ in different languages.”
“People understand something terrible is going to happen,” he said.
All 150 people aboard Flight 9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf were killed.
The investigation centers on why Lubitz apparently destroyed the plane, and how much his employers knew about psychological problems in his past.
In Germany on Thursday, Germanwings said it was unaware that Lubitz had suffered from depression during his pilot training. German airline Lufthansa confirmed Tuesday that it knew six years ago that Lubitz had suffered from an episode of “severe depression” before he finished his flight training.
“We didn’t know this,” said Vanessa Torres, a spokeswoman for Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings, which hired Lubitz in September 2013.
She couldn’t explain why Germanwings wasn’t aware of the depression when its parent company Lufthansa was.
Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt and the German Aviation Association, which represents German airlines, announced the creation of an expert task force to examine what went wrong and consider whether changes are needed to cockpit doors or pilot procedures for passing medicals.
It will discuss “the question of recognizing psychological peculiarities,” Dobrindt said.
Any conclusions will be shared with international air safety organizations.
France’s air accident investigation agency has already said it will examine cockpit entry and psychological screening procedures.
Jordans contributed from Paris. Geir Moulson in Berlin and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.