Relatives of those who lost their lives on flight 4U 9525 mourned the disaster victims in the French mountain village of Le Vernet on Thursday (26 March) alongside locals and rescue workers. The German Ambassador to France and staff of Germany’s missions abroad in Paris, Marseille and Strasbourg are also on hand to help look after the relatives.
A new commemorative stone stands in a meadow overlooking the French Alpine landscape. The community at Le Vernet had it raised in just two days for those who lost loved ones in the disaster. They can come here to grieve for the people who lost their lives when the plane crashed just a few kilometres away. Closer access to the crash site is impossible because of the difficult terrain.
Commemorative ceremony for relatives
In a moving ceremony on Thursday evening (26 March), the many relatives who had travelled from various countries joined local people and rescue workers to mourn the victims of the airline disaster. A multi-faith service was held in a gymnasium which had been converted into a chapel. It included the reading of a message from Pope Francis. The chapel was decorated with flowers, candles and drawings by pupils of Seyne‑les‑Alpes primary school expressing the children’s sympathy for the victims and those they left behind.
Support for relatives at the crash site is also being provided by the German Ambassador in Paris, Susanne Wasum‑Rainer, and staff of Germany’s missions abroad in Paris, Marseille and Strasbourg.
Gratitude for the French emergency services
Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier visited the crash site on the day of the disaster (24 March) together with Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt.
Having flown over the crash scene by helicopter and been briefed by the French security forces, Steinmeier issued the following statement:
The crash site is a picture of horror. The grief of the families and loved ones is immeasurable. We must now lend them our support. We are united in our profound grief.
On behalf of the Federal Government, Steinmeier thanked France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, Transport Minister Ségolène Royal and all members of the French emergency services for their exemplary efforts.
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and French President François Hollande visited the site on Wednesday (25 March).
Crisis unit set up at the Federal Foreign Office
After the crash was announced late on Tuesday morning (24 March), a Federal Government crisis unit was set up at the Federal Foreign Office and convened for the first time immediately, chaired by Foreign Minister Steinmeier.
In addition to Federal Foreign Office staff, the crisis unit includes representatives from the Federal Ministry of Transport, the Federal Aviation Office and the Federal Criminal Police Office, as well as the Head of Aviation Security at Lufthansa. The Embassy in Paris and the Consulates-General in Marseille and Barcelona are also being consulted.
The Crisis Response Centre has been put on an emergency footing and was immediately provided with additional staff. It can be contacted 24 hours a day by the relatives of crash victims and coordinates the German recovery operations.
Helpline for telephone calls relating to the disaster: 030 5000 3000.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier made the following comments on the evening of 24 March after arriving at the plane crash site, flying over the crash scene and being briefed on the situation by French…