One of the flight recorders, or black boxes, belonging to Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 has been recovered, but French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve says it has been damaged.
Investigators are hoping that at least some data from the recorder can be retrieved to shed light on the crash, the cause of which is still not known.
Search and recovery operations resumed in the French Alps on Wednesday morning, a day after the jet crashed and most likely killed all 150 people aboard.
The 24-year-old Airbus A320 was en route from the Spanish city of Barcelona to Dusseldorf in Germany when it went down just before 11 a.m. local time on Tuesday, scattering wreckage across more than four acres of craggy terrain near the village of Digne-Les-Bains in southeastern France.
French officials estimated that it would take “at least a week” to scour the remote site. More than 300 policemen and 380 firefighters have been mobilized in the effort, according to Agence France-Presse.
At least 67 Germans were believed to have been aboard Flight 4U 9525, along with around 45 Spanish passengers. Two Australians and two Japanese are also believed to have perished, as well as Belgian and Turkish travelers.
An unconfirmed report in Germany’s Spiegel magazine, cited in the Telegraph, said that some Germanwings staff felt the crash was related to repairs made on Monday to the nose-wheel landing doors of the ill-fated aircraft. Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, denied that there was any connection.
Nevertheless, scattered reports have emerged that some Germanwings employees are refusing to board the company’s planes in the wake of the disaster. “We understand their decision,” said Thomas Winkelmann, a Germanwings spokesperson, in a statement.
On Wednesday, aviation experts continued to wrestle with several puzzling aspects connected to the crash. Why was no distress made by the pilots? And why did it take Flight 4U 9525 an unusually long time to descend from its cruising altitude of approximately 38,000 feet?
“Eight minutes is a long time for a descent in an uncontrolled fashion,” Mike Daniel, an international aviation-safety consultant based in Singapore, tells TIME. “It could be more of a controlled fashion but we won’t know until they read the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.”
Meanwhile, reports have also began to surface of lucky escapes.
Players from the Swedish first division soccer team Dalkurd FF had been originally booked to travel on Flight 4U 9525, but later switched their plans to avoid a layover in Dusseldorf.
“At first, our time was spent calming down our relatives on the phone because they had been worried sick about us,” Frank Pettersson, the team’s goalkeeper, told Yahoo News. “Later came shock as the thoughts of the victims onboard on that plane became more tangible.”
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