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More than 2,200 confirmed dead in Nepal earthquake

More than 2,200 confirmed dead in Nepal earthquake

By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA and KATY DAIGLE

Sunday, making buildings sway and sending panicked Kathmandu residents running into the streets a day after a massive earthquake left more than 2,200 people dead.

The cawing of crows mixed with terrified screams as the magnitude 6.7 aftershock pummeled the capital city early Sunday afternoon. It came as planeloads of supplies, doctors and relief workers from neighboring countries began arriving in this poor Himalayan nation.

“The aftershocks keep coming … so people don’t know what to expect,” said Sanjay Karki, Nepal country head for global aid agency Mercy Corps. “All the open spaces in Kathmandu are packed with people who are camping outdoors. When the aftershocks come you cannot imagine the fear. You can hear women and children crying.”

Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake spread horror from Kathmandu to small villages and to the slopes of Mount Everest, triggering an avalanche that buried part of the base camp packed with foreign climbers preparing to make their summit attempts. At least 17 people died there and 61 were injured.

The earthquake centered outside Kathmandu, the capital, was the worst to hit the South Asian nation in over 80 years. It destroyed swaths of the oldest neighborhoods of Kathmandu, and was strong enough to be felt all across parts of India, Bangladesh, China’s region of Tibet and Pakistan. By Sunday afternoon, authorities said at least 2,169 people had died in Nepal alone, with 61 more deaths in India and a few in other neighboring countries.

At least 721 of them died in Kathmandu alone, and the number of injured nationwide was upward of 5,000. With search and rescue efforts far from over, it was unclear how much the death toll would rise.But outside of the oldest neighborhoods, many in Kathmandu were surprised by how few modern structures — the city is largely a collection of small, poorly constructed brick apartment buildings — collapsed in the quake. While aid workers cautioned that many buildings could have sustained serious structural damage, it was also clear that the death toll would have been far higher had more buildings caved in.

On a flight into Kathmandu on Sunday morning, an AP correspondent was unable to spot any collapsed buildings.

Aid workers also warned that the situation could be far worse near the epicenter. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered near Lamjung, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Kathmandu, in the Gorkha district.

Roads to that area were blocked by landslides, hindering rescue teams, said chief district official Prakash Subedi. Teams were trekking through mountain trails to reach remote villages, and helicopters would also be deployed, he said by telephone.

The aid group World Vision said in a statement that remote mountain communities, including in Gorkha, were totally unprepared for the level of destruction caused by the earthquake.

Villages near the epicenter “are literally perched on the sides of large mountain faces and are made from simple stone and rock construction. Many of these villages are only accessible by 4WD and then foot, with some villages hours and even entire days’ walks away from main roads at the best of times,” the group’s local staff member, Matt Darvas, said in the statement.

He said he was hearing that many of the villages may have been completely buried by rock falls.

“It will likely be helicopter access only for these remote villages,” he said.

Nepal’s worst recorded earthquake in 1934 measured 8.0 and all but destroyed the cities of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan.

With people fearing more quakes, tens of thousands of Nepalese spent Saturday night outside under chilly skies, or in cars and public buses. They were jolted awake by strong aftershocks early Sunday.”There were at least three big quakes at night and early morning. How can we feel safe? This is never-ending and everyone is scared and worried,” said Kathmandu resident Sundar Sah. “I hardly got much sleep. I was waking up every few hours and glad that I was alive.”

As day broke, rescuers aided by international teams set out to dig through rubble of buildings — concrete slabs, bricks, iron beams, wood — to look for survivors.

In the Kalanki neighborhood of Kathmandu, police rescuers finally extricated a man lying under a dead person, both of them buried beneath a pile of concrete slabs and iron beams. Before his rescue, his family members stood nearby, crying and praying. Police said the man’s legs and hips were totally crushed.

Hundreds of people in Kalanki gathered around the collapsed Lumbini Guest House, once a three-story budget hotel and restaurant frequented by Nepalese. They watched with fear and anticipation as a single backhoe dug into the rubble.

Police officer RP Dhamala, who was coordinating the rescue efforts, said they had already pulled out 12 people alive and six dead. He said rescuers were still searching for about 20 people believed to be trapped, but had heard no cries, taps or noises for a while.Most areas were without power and water.

The United Nations said hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley were overcrowded, and running out of emergency supplies and space to store corpses. Plumes of smoke, meanwhile, rose above the capital as friends, relatives and others gathered by the river to quickly cremate loved ones’ remains.

Most shops in Kathmandu were shut; only fruit vendors and pharmacies seemed to be doing business. Karki, of Mercy Corps, said there were long lines outside pharmacies because people fear they will run out of medicine.

Fruit seller Shyam Jaiswal vowed not to raise prices, though stocks were fast running out.

“This is all we will have for awhile. We don’t expect any more shipments for at least a week. More people are coming now. They cannot cook so they need to buy something they can eat raw. We try to help everyone. But we are not raising prices. That would be illegal, immoral profit. That would be wrong,” Jaiswal said.

The quake will likely put a huge strain on the resources of this impoverished country best known for Everest, the highest mountain in the world. The economy of Nepal, a nation of 27.8 million people, relies heavily on tourism, principally trekking and Himalayan mountain climbing.

With Kathmandu airport reopened, the first aid flights began delivering aid supplies. The first to respond were Nepal’s neighbors — India, China and Pakistan, all of which have been jockeying for influence over the landlocked nation. Still, Nepal remains closest to India with which it shares deep political, cultural and religious ties.

Indian air force planes landed Sunday with 43 tons of relief material, including tents and food, and nearly 200 rescuers, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said. The planes were returning to New Delhi with Indian nationals stranded in Kathmandu. More aid flights were planned for Sunday.

India suffered its own losses from the quake, with at least 61 people killed there and dozens injured. Sunday’s aftershock was also widely felt in the country, and local news reports said metro trains in New Delhi and Kolkata were briefly shut down when the shaking started.

A 62-member Chinese search and rescue team also arrived Sunday. Other countries sending support Sunday included the United Arab Emirates, Germany and France.

An elderly injured woman is taken home through earthquake debris after treatment.

Pakistan prepared to send four C-130 aircraft, carrying a 30-bed temporary hospital comprising army doctors, surgeons and specialists. An urban search and rescue team was also sent with ground-penetrating radars, concrete cutters and sniffing dogs. Pakistan was also sending 2,000 ready-to-eat meal packs, water bottles, medicines, 200 tents, 600 blankets and other necessary items.

When the earth first shook, residents fled homes and buildings in panic as walls tumbled, trees swayed, power lines came crashing down and large cracks opened up on streets. After the chaos of Saturday — when little organized rescue and relief was seen — there was more order on Sunday as rescue teams fanned out across the city.

Workers were sending out tents and relief goods in trucks and helicopters, said disaster management official Rameshwar Dangal. He said government and private schools have been turned into shelters.

Mukesh Kafle, the head of the Nepal Electricity Authority, said power has been restored fully to main government offices, the airport and hospitals.

Among the destroyed buildings in Kathmandu was the nine-story Dharahara Tower, a Kathmandu landmark built by Nepal’s royal rulers as a watchtower in the 1800s and a UNESCO-recognized historical monument. It was reduced to rubble and there were reports of people trapped underneath.

The Kathmandu Valley is listed as a World Heritage site. The Buddhist stupas, public squares and Hindu temples are some of the most well-known sites in Kathmandu, and now some of the most deeply mourned.

The head of the U.N. cultural agency, Irina Bokova, said in a statement that UNESCO was ready to help Nepal rebuild from “extensive damage, including to historic monuments and buildings of the Kathmandu Valley.”

Nepali journalist and author Shiwani Neupane tweeted: “The sadness is sinking in. We have lost our temples, our history, the places we grew up.”

Police kill more whites than blacks, but minority deaths generate more outrage

Police kill more whites than blacks, but minority deaths generate more outrage

Analysis contradicts widespread views about racial targets

Rev. Jamal Bryant leads a rally outside of the Baltimore Police Department's Western District station during a march and vigil for Freddie Gray on Tuesday in Baltimore. Mr. Gray died from spinal injuries a week after he was arrested and transported in a police van. (Associated Press)
Rev. Jamal Bryant leads a rally outside of the Baltimore Police Department’s Western District station during a march and vigil for Freddie Gray on Tuesday in Baltimore. Mr. Gray died from spinal injuries a week after he was arrested.

Body cameras will not boost police-community relations (video):

Concealed Carrying “Uber” Driver Stopped MASS MURDER in Chicago

Concealed Carrying “Uber” Driver Stopped MASS MURDER in Chicago

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

That quote usually causes smoke to pour out of liberals’ heads … but a recent incident in Chicago proves just how true it is.

Over the past weekend, a criminal named Everardo Custodio tried to commit mass murder.

Police say he pointed an illegal handgun at a sidewalk full of people in Logan Square andopened fire on the crowd.

That incident could have been another deadly tragedy in one of the country’s most dangerous cities.

This time, however, things were different.

A 47-year-old Uber taxi service driver had just dropped off a passenger when he saw Custodio open fire on innocent people.

Instead of taking cover, he took action.

The anonymous Uber driver decided that he wasn’t going to stand by while innocent people died. He pulled out a concealed shotgun from his car and dropped the rampaging criminal with several well-placed shots.

According to authorities, the heroic driver has a concealed carry permit and was carrying his firearm legally in his vehicle.

There were no charges filed against the armed Good Samaritan, and the man “was acting in self-defense and in the defense of others,” according to Assistant State’s Attorney Barry Quinn.

The criminal, meanwhile, was taken to a hospital where he was put under arrest. He’s facing charges of aggravated battery with a firearm and illegal possession of a firearm.

For many years, Chicago has had some of the most draconian gun laws in the nation. Incidents like this, however, are showing us exactly why people need the right to defend themselves — and in this case, defend an entire crowd.

Criminals bent on murder don’t follow laws. Unarmed, innocent people are a crowd of just victims. When responsible citizens can be armed, however, they have a fighting chance to defend their lives.

ISIS video shows killing of Ethiopian Christians

ISIL video purports to show killing of Ethiopian Christians

Jane Onyanga-Omara, USA TODAY

ISIS video shows killing of Ethiopian Christians Jane Onyanga-Omara, USA TODAY   ISIS' latest execution video appears to show militants executing what they say is a group of Ethiopian Christians. Video provided by Newsy Newslook
ISIS video shows killing of Ethiopian Christians Jane Onyanga-Omara, USA TODAY ISIS’ latest execution video appears to show militants executing what they say is a group of Ethiopian Christians. Video provided by Newsy Newslook

A video purporting to show the killing of Ethiopian Christians by Islamic State-affiliated militants in Libyahas been released online.

The 29-minute video appears to show militants holding two groups of captives, one by an affiliate in eastern Libya known as Barka Province and the other by the Fazzan Province, an affiliate in the south.

A masked fighter wielding a pistol says Christians must convert to Islam or pay a special tax prescribed by the Quran, before the captives in the south are shown being shot dead and the captives in the east are beheaded on a beach.

In January, militants loyal to the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, claimed responsibility for an attack on the Corinthia hotel in the Libyan capital of Tripolithat left 10 people including an American and four other foreigners dead.

Extremist groups, including some that have pledged allegiance to ISIL, have risen in the country since the overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

In February, Egypt began airstrikes against ISIL targets in Libya hours after militants released a video purporting to show the mass beheading of Egyptian Christian hostages.

ISIL controls vast swaths of Syria and neighboring Iraq. The extremists were recently driven out of Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit by Iraqi forces and allied Shiite militias, helped by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

The battle for Tikrit was seen as a key step toward driving the militants out of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

Contributing: Associated Press

100 Year Old Man Kills Wife With Ax

100 Year Old Man Kills Wife With Ax

Authorities arrive at a home where bodies of
Authorities arrive at a home where bodies of an elderly couple were found Monday, April 6, 2015, in Elmwood Park, N.J. Prosecutors say a 100-year-old man apparently killed his wife with an ax as she slept, then killed himself. Photo Credit: AP

 

Authorities say an elderly couple who died in an apparent murder-suicide at their northern New Jersey home had a history of domestic incidents.

Elmwood Park police tell The Record that since 2012, officers had responded to three calls at the home of 100-year-old Michael Juskin and his 88-year-old wife, Rosalia. Authorities believe Michael Juskin killed his wife with an ax as she slept late Sunday, then killed himself in the bathroom with a knife.

Family members say Michael Juskin suffered from dementia.

In March 2012, police responding to a 911 call found him to be unstable and took him to a hospital for evaluation. Another call came in September 2013, when Rosalia Juskin claimed he was harassing her.

The third call came Jan. 13, when Rosalia Juskin said her husband had locked her in the basement in his confusion.

Researchers: Cops 25 Times Less Likely To Shoot Blacks Than Whites

Researchers:  Cops 25 Times Less Likely To Shoot Blacks Than Whites

Officers typically hesitate when shooting black suspects, according to researchers

Shock Study: Cops 25X Less Likely to Shoot Unarmed Blacks Than Whites

Cops are 25 times less likely to shoot unarmed blacks than whites or Hispanics, according to a little-known study which makes the South Carolina police shooting of an unarmed, fleeing black man even more egregious than before, if that’s even possible.

The study by Washington State University-Spokane, which barely received any news coverage, found that police were more likely to hesitate when shooting a black suspect due to “real-world concern over discipline, liability or public disapproval.”

“We found that [the all-white] participants took longer to shoot black suspects than white or Hispanic suspects,” the researchers reported. “In addition, where errors were made, participants across experiments were more likely to shoot unarmed white suspects than unarmed black or Hispanic suspects, and were more likely to fail to shoot armed black suspects than armed white or Hispanic suspects.”

“In sum, this research found that participants displayed significant bias favoring black suspects in their decisions to shoot.”

The researchers gave 36 white police officers a Glock 21 modified to shoot a laser beam and had them take part in a series of 10 “highly realistic” video scenarios based on actual encounters with suspects in which police were assaulted or killed.

“Black, white and Hispanic suspects appeared in the scenarios proportional to their involvement in actual attacks on officers, as compiled in FBI statistics,” Policeone.com said about the study. “Suspects were unarmed in about a third of the scenarios.”

Not only did the officers take significantly longer to shoot black suspects, but they were also “25 times less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than they were to shoot unarmed white suspects,” the researchers stated.

While this study shouldn’t be used to discount the numerous police shootings of non-threatening black suspects, especially after S.C. officer Michael T. Slager shot a fleeing, unarmed black man on Saturday, it does reveal that many cops fear being publicly crucified or labeled racist for justifiably shooting a suspect.

And this fear is also keeping a lot of would-be police officers from pursuing careers in law enforcement.

“I think they realize that what they do would be so scrutinized to the point it’s not worth the trouble, and it’s not worth the headache … to become involved in the field,” West Virginia sheriff Mike Rutherford told the The Charleston Gazette. “Quite often, people question you and call you everything under the sun, including a racist, simply because you make an arrest.”

French investigators: Co-pilot accelerated plane on descent

French investigators: Co-pilot accelerated plane on descent

By The Associated Press

Germanwing plane crash airplane

PARIS (AP) — The co-pilot of the doomed Germanwings flight repeatedly sped up the plane as he used the automatic pilot to descend the A320 into the Alps, the French air accident investigation agency said Friday.

The chilling new detail from the BEA agency is based on an initial reading of the plane’s “black box” data recorder, found blackened and buried at the crash site Thursday.

It strengthens investigators’ initial suspicions that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz intentionally destroyed the plane — though prosecutors are still trying to figure out why. All 150 people aboard Flight 9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf were killed in the March 24 crash.

The BEA said the preliminary reading of the data recorder shows that the pilot used the automatic pilot to put the plane into a descent and then repeatedly during the descent adjusted the automatic pilot to speed up the plane.

The agency says it will continue studying the black box for more complete details of what happened. The Flight Data Recorder records aircraft parameters such as the speed, altitude, and actions of the pilot on the commands.

Based on recordings from the plane’s other black box, the cockpit voice recorder, investigators say Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit and deliberately crashed.

Lubitz spent time online researching suicide methods and cockpit door security in the week before crashing Flight 9525, prosecutors said Thursday — the first evidence that the fatal descent may have been a premeditated act.

German prosecutors have said Lubitz’s medical records from before he received his pilot’s license referred to “suicidal tendencies,” and Lufthansa, Germanwings’ parent company, said it knew six years ago that Lubitz had had an episode of “severe depression” before he finished his flight training.

In Marseille, prosecutor Brice Robin said that his investigation focuses on France for now, but he has filed a formal request for judicial cooperation from Germany that could expand the scope of his probe.

Robin underlined French investigators’ conviction that he was conscious until the moment of impact, and appears to have acted repeatedly to stop an excessive speed alarm from sounding.

“It’s a voluntary action that guided this plane toward the mountain, not only losing altitude but correcting the aircraft’s speed,” he said Thursday.

The mountain rescue officer who found the data recorder, Alice Coldefy, described Friday the unexpected discovery in a spot that had already been repeatedly searched.

“I found a pile of clothes, we were searching it, we were moving them downhill and while doing this I discovered a box. The color of the box was the same as the gravel, of the black gravel, that is everywhere at the crash site,” she told reporters in Seyne-les-Alpes.

So-called black boxes are actually orange, but this one had burned up in the crash and blended with the dark earth covering the area, known to local guides as “the black lands.”

“I didn’t realize I had found it and I wasn’t thinking it was possible to find it among all this debris,” she said.

Mountain officers and trained dogs are continuing to search the site. When the terrain is fully cleared of body parts and belongings, a private company will take out the large airplane debris.

Lufthansa knew of co-pilot’s previous ‘severe depression’ in 2009

Lufthansa knew of co-pilot’s previous ‘severe depression’ in 2009

The co-pilot who crashed Flight 9525 into a French mountainside last week had informed the German carrier Lufthansa in 2009 about a “previous episode of severe depression,” the airline said on Tuesday, raising fresh questions about the series of decisions that allowed Andreas Lubitz to stay in the skies.

The admission that the company knew at least some of the history of Lubitz’s mental illness came after the company’s chief executive, Carsten Spohr, said publicly last week that Lufthansa — parent of the budget airline Germanwings for which Lubitz worked — had no previous knowledge of his medical history.

In a statement Tuesday, however, the carrier said it wanted to issue a “swift and seamless clarification.” In 2009, Lubitz had taken several months off during his training to become a pilot. When he resumed the program, Lufthansa said, he provided the airline “medical documents” that noted his bout of severe depression.

The company said it had forwarded those documents to prosecutors who are now handling the crash as a homicide case.

Under European aviation law, pilots with active and untreated cases of depression are prevented from flying. But if deemed medically cured, there may have been no legal impediment for Lubitz to continue his training and obtain his license, experts say.

However, pilots who have attempted “a single self-destructive act” — such as suicide — are legally barred from commercial flying. Also, pilots who are taking psychotropic medications — such as popular antidepressants — as part of their therapy, for instance, have some limitations, including a stipulation that they not be alone in the cockpit.

German prosecutors said Monday that Lubitz had suffered from “suicidal tendencies” for which he was treated over an extended period. The prosecutors said that the treatment occurred before he was issued a pilot’s license and that they had found no indications that he was recently suicidal.

But Germany authorities have said that he had been issued multiple doctors’ notes judging him unfit to work, including one covering the day of the plane crash. At least one of the notes was found torn up in his apartment.

The system depends on employees reporting their own medical conditions to their employers, and Lufthansa has said that it was not aware of the recent medical problems.

An official familiar with the investigation said Tuesday that authorities were not examining the Lufthansa Group for any negligence. Lufthansa provided investigators with information about Lubitz’s airline medical examinations and copies of previous correspondence with the airline, the official said. But since the depressive episode occurred in 2009, the official said that investigators did not believe Lufthansa was immediately culpable.

During Lubitz’s employment with Germanwings, starting in 2013, his medical certificates and examinations declared him flightworthy.

A Lufthansa spokeswoman said that the company had graduated him from its rigorous flight school, despite the previous depressive episode, because following medical checks “he was perceived to be healed.”

“At any time he was flying, he was declared fit to fly,” the spokeswoman said, who spoke on the condition that her name not be used, a German custom.

When asked whether Lufthansa had known about any subsequent psychological condition, she said: “Not that we are aware of.”

Germany’s medical examinations for pilots give a yes-or-no answer to employers about whether aviators are ready to fly, offering no space for additional information or caveats. Officials familiar with the investigation have said that one working theory is that Lubitz was concerned about losing his medical certificate when it came up for renewal later this year.

Michael Müller, chief executive of ATTC, a company that helps prepare pilot candidates for entering flight schools, including Lufthansa’s, defended the carrier’s track record. He said he was aware of at least one instance, for example, when the company had pulled a pilot from the cockpit after his ex-wife had committed suicide.

“I’m afraid it will never be possible to prevent these things from happening entirely,” he said. “In my view, Lufthansa did not fail. When a doctor says someone is healthy and he is certifying this, then he is allowed to fly. In a pilot’s career, it can happen that you get ill, also psychologically. You can’t simply say, ‘We’ll let him go.’ ”

The Lufthansa Group has already offered $53,635 to families of every victim to cover immediate living expenses. The new revelation was likely to open the airline to far greater damages. A Lufthansa spokesman said Tuesday that its insurer, Allianz, had set aside $300 million to pay for liability claims from victims’ families.

French President François Hollande visited German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday, where the two discussed the ongoing investigation into the catastrophe alongside a range of other issues.

Hollande called for bolstering the checks on pilots over European skies, saying that he was working toward “ensuring that we can strengthen our safety rules for piloting these aircraft.”

He said that more than 800 people were laboring at the mountain crash site to push the investigation forward as quickly as possible.

Separately, a French aviation investigation agency said Tuesday that it had begun a study of “systemic weaknesses” that may have led to the crash. The French Bureau of Investigations and Analyses for Civil Aviation Security said it would focus on the procedures used “to detect psychological profiles,” as well as look at cockpit safety rules.

German investigators offered few new details about the status of their inquiry on Tuesday. One official familiar with the investigation said that the initial questioning of Lubitz’s family and girlfriend had been completed but that investigators remained in contact with them as new issues arose.

The official said that neither Lubitz’s parents nor his girlfriend were aware of any suicidal impulses ahead of the plane crash.

Birnbaum reported from Düsseldorf.

Germanwings crash co-pilot Andreas Lubitz body parts ‘found’

Germanwings crash co-pilot Andreas Lubitz body parts ‘found’

French authorities believe they have found the remains of the co-pilot who deliberately crashed the Airbus A320 last week, German newspaper Bild reports

Crash scene investigators have found body parts thought to belong to the co-pilot of the ill-fated Germanwings flight that crashed into the Alps, it has been claimed.

French investigators confirmed that they had found traces of Andreas Lubitz’s body among the crash debris high in the mountains where the wreckage of the downed Airbus A320 – en route to Dusseldorf from Barcelona – fell.

Debris of the Germanwings Airbus A320 at the site of the crash (Reuters)

German newspaper Bild confirmed that French authorities believe they have located Lubitz’s remains.

plane

Families of those killed are understood to have been invited to give DNA samples to expedite the identification of their loved ones.

Andreas Lubitz ‘was in therapy for suicidal tendencies’

Professor Michael Tsokos, the investigation’s chief forensic scientist, confirmed that Lubitz’s body was among those retrieved.

Forensics experts have been working continuously to analyse over 600 body parts scattered across an inaccessible Alpine valley following the crash.

Experts expect that the majority of victims will be identified and certified dead by the end of April.

Forensic investigators have so far identified 78 separate DNA strands from body parts at the crash site.

Meanwhile a senior Lufthansa manager has said that he is doubtful that the flight data recorder will ever be found.

Search and rescue workers collecting debris at the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 (EPA)

Speaking on an ARD talk show, Kay Kratky said that the speed of the plane was almost 500mph and warned that the recorder could have been pulverised.

“It could be that the impact was too much and it is not sending any signals,” he said.

Girlfriend of Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz is ‘expecting his child’
Police find ‘clue’ at home of Germanwings’ co-pilot Andreas Lubitz

His comments came as French officials refused to confirm categorically that the disaster was intentionally caused by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz.

To the frustration of some families, the investigation is still designated a manslaughter inquiry rather than being upgraded to a murder probe.

The pastor of the Lutheran church in Andreas Lubitz’s hometown has courted controversy by insisting that the community stands by him and his family, despite the fact that prosecutors blame the 27-year-old for causing the crash that killed 150 people.

“For us, it makes it particularly difficult that the only victim from Montabaur is suspected to have caused this tragedy, this crash – although this has not been finally confirmed,” pastor Michael Dietrich said.

“The co-pilot, the family belong to our community, and we stand by this, and we embrace them and will not hide this, and want to support the family in particular.”

Meanwhile an ally of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, has called forGermany’s draconian privacy laws to be relaxed to prevent a repeat of the Germanwings tragedy.

Dirk Fischer, CDU transport expert, has proposed an easing of medical confidentiality for those in sensitive jobs.

Under his proposals pilots would “go to doctors that are specified by the employer,” he told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

The doctors would then be obliged to warn employers and the Federal Aviation Authority of any pressing concerns such as serious mental disorders.