Two European publications claim to have seen a video of the last moments inside the doomed Germanwings flight before it slammed into a mountain, but French authorities say the reports have no credence.
A French magazine and a German tabloid newspaper claimed to have seen video retrieved from a mobile telephone data card found in the wreckage of the Airbus A320 in the French Alps. They said it appears to show the chaos as the aircraft descended, with the captain trying to force open the cockpit door and passengers screaming “My God!”
The crash killed all 150 people on board.
French police denied the video's authenticity, telling CNN that the reports were “completely wrong” and “unwarranted." The public prosecutor leading the crash investigation, Brice Robin, said none of the mobile telephones collected at the crash site had been sent for analysis.
"All are for now being kept at Seynes-les-Alpes. If people at the site have picked up mobile phones, I am not aware of it," he told Reuters news service by telephone.
He said that "in the event that somebody has possession of such a video, he should hand it in to investigators.”
Copilot Andreas Lubitz, 27, is accused of locking pilot Patrick Sondenheimer out of the flight deck and deliberately putting the plane on a course for destruction.
Frederic Helbert, a Paris Match journalist, wrote that the purported film lasted “a few seconds” and corroborated information released last week from the cockpit voice recorder.
“Its provenance, a portable phone, is without question," he wrote. "The scene is so chaotic that you cannot make out anyone, but the passengers’ screams show that they were perfectly conscious of what was about to happen to them. We heard cries of 'My God' in several languages. We also hear, at least three times, metallic blows, which leads us to think the pilot tried to open the cockpit door with a heavy object. Towards the end, after a strong shake, the screams became louder. Then nothing.”
In a broadcast interview, he said the publications had made a decision not to show the video, which "adds nothing to the investigation."
He said the video came from "different intermediates connected with those working on the ground." Asked about police claims that the video is "false," he responded, "Have they seen it? What video are they talking about, the same one I have seen? ... Are we even speaking about the same video?"
However, Robin had not spoken about a specific video, but the lack of one.
Bild am Sontag's online editor in chief, Julian Reichelt, is quoted in the German tabloid as saying he had watched the video.
"The recording is from the cabin of the plane and shows as far as we know the last moments before it smashed into the mountain," Reichelt said. "It is very shaky, it's very chaotic. But there are certain elements that match what we already know about the crash. There are metal noises, which we believe to be hammering on the cockpit door.
"The plane plummets, people are panicking, they are screaming. Then something appears to hit the plane, or rather the plane appears to hit something, and it is briefly shaken. The screaming grows louder, and then the video ends.”
Bild am Sontag reported that the video "was found at the scene of the tragedy by a person who belongs to the team of investigators.”
Robin told German press agency DPA that many mobile phones had been found at the crash site but that those phones had not yet been examined to see if any useful information could be retrieved.
He said they were all in very poor condition from the crash.
"I don't know if anything will be able to be extracted from them," he said.
The leaders of Germanwings and its parent company, Lufthansa, visited the site of the crash Wednesday, a day after admitting that Lufthansa knew Lubitz had suffered an episode of “severe depression” that led him to take a break in his flight training. However, the company has insisted Lubitz had passed all medical, psychological and physical tests and was “100% fit” to fly.
French authorities said they believed they had finished collecting human remains from the site on Wednesday but would continue looking.
“All that is left are belongings and pieces of metal,” police Lt. Luc Poussel told journalists.
Willsher is a special correspondent.