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Summary

  1. The co-pilot of a Germanwings jet that went down in the Alps appears to have crashed the plane deliberately, a French prosecutor says
  2. He has been identified as Andreas Lubitz, a 28-year-old German citizen
  3. Analysis of the flight recorder shows the pilot had been locked out of the cockpit and was calling on the co-pilot to let him back in
  4. Passengers were not aware of the impending crash "until the very last moment", the prosecutor says
  5. All 150 people on board flight 4U 9525 were killed when the Airbus A320 smashed into a mountainside

Live Reporting

By Camila Ruz and Lauren Turner

All times stated are UK

That ends our live coverage of the Germanwings plane crash for the day, after we learned that the aircraft appears to have been deliberately flown into the mountain by the co-pilot.

You can read our main story

here and check back for more updates on the BBC news website later, with continued coverage on the BBC News channel.

On a day of dramatic developments, here's a reminder of

everything we know so far about the Germanwings crash in the French Alps that left 150 people dead.

German investigators have been removing boxes of documents and other objects from the apartment of Andreas Lubitz in Duesseldorf.

A German police investigator carries a box after searching an apartment believed to belong to the crashed Germanwings flight 4U 9524 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz in Duesseldorf, 26 March 2015
Reuters
Rescuers in Seyne-les-Alpes
AP

Search and recovery teams have again spent a day in incredibly difficult conditions in the French Alps. The site of the crash is inaccessible by road and can only be reached from the air, making the salvage operation all the more challenging.

Darkness has now fallen on the area but at first light, they will be back again to continue their grim task.

You can watch the video of rescuer Jean Sebastien Beaud's interview

here.

The US does not believe that there is a terrorism connection in the Germanwings crash. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Thursday that "based on what we know, there is not a nexus to terrorism."

Jean Sebastien Beaud is a member of the mountain police and was one of the first on the scene after the Germanwings plane crashed on Tuesday. He and two colleagues were winched into the ravine just 30 minutes after the plane came down.

Mr Beaud - who recovered the black box from the plane - told the BBC: "As a rescuer, I go on many accidents and see a lot of ugly things, but never anything of this scale, never.

"The scene was surreal... and I knew from the first moment there would be no survivors."

Jean Sebastien Beaud
BBC

A single candle has been lit outside the home of the family of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz in Montabaur.

A candle has been placed in front of the home of the family of Andreas Lubitz in Montabaur, Germany, Thursday, March 26, 2015.
AP

More than 100 relatives and friends of the victims have arrived in the small village of Seyne-les-Alpes, close to the site of the disaster.

But why visit the crash site? The BBC's William Kremer looks into the reasons behind their trip

here.

The BBC's Clive Myrie says that Andreas Lubitz's parents were among those who travelled to Seyne-les-Alpes to mourn those killed in the crash. Following the revelations from the cockpit voice recorder "they have now been separated from the rest of the group", he added.

Sandrine Boisse, a tourism official from the ski resort of Pra Loup who believes she heard the moment of collision, told the BBC that "you feel like you're in a movie".

She added that it felt surreal to have "all the light of the world turned on your valley".

Philip Baum, editor of Aviation Security International magazine, told BBC Radio 5 live that changes could be made to reduce the likelihood of a similar incident happening in the future.

He said: "I think that far too many pilots actually do leave the flight deck during short flights. I mean obviously on long haul flights, they do need to be able to leave the flight deck.

"Although there is an argument to say that one should actually have two flight deck doors - as El Al the Israeli airline has - so that a pilot can leave the flight deck, go to the toilet, but still remain behind a secondary door."

Flags representing the nationalities of some of the victims were held up as their friends and relatives gathered for a ceremony in a field in Seyne-les-Alpes, close to the crash site.

Flags of some of the nations whose citizens were killed in the crash
Reuters

Montabaur Mayor Edmund Schaaf has said that the town's "deepest sympathies" go out to the victims' relatives, adding: "We are saying this regardless of the circumstances that led to this event."

He confirmed that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz came from Montabaur and that his family live in the town.

But he added: "Concerning the accusations that he deliberately crashed the plane, we cannot give, and do not want to give, any statement."

Norwegian Air Shuttle and Air Canada had announced similar plans earlier on Thursday.

British carrier Easyjet will now require two crew members to be in the cockpit at all times. The move comes after the UK's Civil Aviation Authority told UK airlines to review their procedures. You can read more about this on the BBC website

here.

The two homes of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz - in Duesseldorf and Montabaur - have been searched by investigators, according to the agency AFP.

The search of the crash site in the Alps is ongoing and there are reports that bodies are now being recovered and airlifted from the area.

The search team at the crash site in the Alps
Reuters

The US State Department has named the third American passenger on board the Germanwings flight as Robert Oliver, Reuters has reported. The department is still investigating whether there were further US citizens involved.

One of Andreas Lubitz's neighbours in Montabaur, Wolfgang Michaelis, tells the BBC that the co-pilot's actions were incomprehensible. "It's a terrible situation because the family has lost their son and because of all those innocent people who died, and I can't understand that someone, as it appears, commits suicide... that he then kills innocent people along with himself," Mr Michaelis says. "There is nothing to understand. This is particularly terrible."

Germanwings has said in a statement that its employees are "stunned" over the revelation that the plane was brought down deliberately.

"We would have never imagined that such a tragedy could happen in our company," it added.

The company described the incident as a "tragic individual case" and said that it still had complete confidence in its pilots.

The local government in Duesseldorf says the most recent regular security check on Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot, was conducted on 27 January and found nothing unusual, according to the Associated Press. The government says it also consulted the authorities in Bremen, where he went to flight school, and Rhineland-Palatinate state, where his hometown of Montabaur is located. The checks look for any criminal record or links to extremists.

'Mass murder'

James Reynolds

BBC News, Seyne-Les-Alpes

Marseille's prosecutor Brice Robin entered the room with no sign that he had an astonishing conclusion to reveal. He told reporters he had examined the voice recordings of the last 30 minutes of the flight. For the first 20 minutes, Mr Robin said, the captain and co-pilot spoke to each other normally - even cheerfully. Then the captain got up - apparently to use the toilet - and the cockpit door locked behind him. The co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was left alone in control of the plane. He soon pressed a button for the aircraft to descend. The prosecutor said he believed that this was a deliberate act.

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin at a news conference at Marignane airport (26 March 2015)
AFP

The recordings picked up every detail of the co-pilot's actions - suggesting that he was conscious and alert. "We could hear him breathing. He breathed normally. He didn't utter a single word the minute the pilot left the cabin," Mr Robin said. The plane started to descend. The captain knocked on the cockpit door and used the intercom. But his co-pilot didn't respond. Trapped outside his own cockpit, the captain became increasingly desperate. "The alarms went off to alert the crew to the proximity of the ground and at that moment, we could hear a violent knocking on a door, someone was trying to force the door. It was a strong door, it was reinforced, in line with international norms, to protect against acts of terrorism." That meant there was no way in - and no way to stop the co-pilot. Andreas Lubitz calmly flew himself, his captain and their 148 crew and passengers straight into the mountainside.

A model of a Germanwings plane placed among flowers and candles at Cologne Bonn airport (26 March 2015)
Reuters

"I think that the victims did not realise what was happening until the last moment, the very last moment. Because in the recording, we could only hear the cries at the last moment, just before the impact with the ground." The prosecutor described their deaths as sudden and immediate. Brice Robin said he believed that Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed the plane. If that turns out to be true, the final 10 minutes of the 28-year-old co-pilot's life were a sustained act of mass murder.

Twenty-eight-year-old co-pilot Andreas Lubitz is believed to have locked the doors of the cockpit and sent the Germanwings plane into descent with 150 people on board.

But who was he?

Here is everything we know about Andreas Lubitz

A German foreign ministry spokesman says that 75 German nationals are now believed to have been killed in the crash, based on current information, according to Reuters. On Wednesday, Germanwings had put the number of German victims at 72.

A German state prosecutor has confirmed that police are searching properties in Duesseldorf and other locations for documents and evidence relating to the crash, Reuters news agency reports. Christoph Kumpa said it would take a while to assess the findings.

Andreas Lubitz lived with his parents in the town of Montabaur but also kept a flat in Duesseldorf.

German police stand outside what is believed to be Andreas Lubitz's flat in Duesseldorf (26 March 2015)
AP
German police were pictured outside what was believed to be Andreas Lubitz's flat in Duesseldorf

The US FBI has offered to help the French authorities with the air crash investigation. "We stand ready to fulfil any requests for information," FBI spokesman Paul Bresson told the Associated Press.

James Longman

BBC News

tweets: "A map circling #GermanWingsCrash exclusion zone from helicopter high over the #Alps @BBCNews"

A map showing the exclusion zone around the Germanwings flight 4U 9525 crash site (26 March 2015)
James Longman

Matthias Gebauer

Der Spiegel magazine

tweets: "Looking for a motive for the deadly descent: Police begin search warrant at #4U9525 co-driver Andreas L. Montabaur"

Our correspondent Jenny Hill has been speaking to residents near the family home of Andreas Lubitz in Montabaur, shown below.

She reports: "'It's just horrible,' one neighbour told me as she held her little boy. She didn't know the family well at all. But she worries now that Montabaur will always be remembered for this.

"A little while ago two people strode up to the front door escorted by police officers. A woman, maybe in her 30s, carrying a notebook and a slightly older man were let into the house and the heavy brown door slammed shut again."

Andreas Lubitz's home in Montabaur
Reuters

Families of some of the victims have now arrived in Seyne-les-Alpes, near the crash site. The local bishop is shown here preparing to greet and support those relatives.

A priest prepares to greet family members
AFP/Getty

BBC correspondent Jenny Hill is in Montabaur, where Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz is thought to have lived.

She says: "It's an unremarkable house in a small quiet housing estate. But this is where Andreas Lubitz is believed to have lived with his parents - and the house with grey walls and dormer windows is now the focus of the world's attention as investigators try to establish why he appears to have deliberately crashed the plane."

She said today's news was "an additional strain on the families and in this hour full of suffering, these days full of suffering, our thoughts are especially with them".

Angela Merkel
BBC

Mrs Merkel said that Germany would do all it could to support the investigation into the crash.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she has been deeply shocked by the latest developments. "It is difficult to measure the suffering that this catastrophe has brought to so many families," she tells a news conference in Berlin. "Today, we now have received news that this tragedy has been given a new, immeasurably incomprehensible dimension."

How are cockpit doors locked? BBC Magazine takes a look at how aircraft security systems work

here.

A 30-minute recording obtained from the cockpit voice recorder has provided the clearest indication yet as to what might have happened on board. Take a look at

our analysis of the flight's final half hour.

A coach transporting relatives of some of the victims has arrived in Seyne-les-Alpes, near the crash site in the French Alps.

A soldier stands guard in a field as a coach transporting relatives of the victims arrives in Seyne-les-Alpes
Reuters

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr has described the entry mechanism of the cockpit door.

"There is another code you can enter at the door which will lead to a bell ringing and if nobody reacts, the door will open automatically and allow entry," he said.

But he added that this can be blocked from the cockpit by pushing a switch that will lock the door for five minutes.

"Either the captain didn't enter the code correctly - which we find unlikely because everybody involved knows this code by heart - or the colleague had entered the code and the co-pilot prevented the door from opening by pushing the lock switch," said Mr Spohr.

Low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle will now require two people to be in the cockpit at all times for safety reasons. "When one person leaves the cockpit, two people will now have to be there," its director of operations is quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

French prosecutors say the pilot of the Germanwings plane that crashed was locked out of the cockpit by his co-pilot, who then "voluntarily" sent the plane into a descent.