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Investigators Still Looking For Black Box Data From Germanwings Plane


The leaders of Germany, France and Spain gathered together today in the French Alps. That's where a German airliner crashed yesterday killing all 150 people aboard. In a couple of minutes we'll hear about the small town in Germany that lost 16 high school students in that crash. First, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports on the latest in the investigation and the tribute by European leaders.


ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: It wasn't a diplomatic visit. There was no script or protocol. It was simply the leaders of three nations brought together by grief in a field in the mountains. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy joined French President Francois Hollande at the traumatic Alpine site.



BEARDSLEY: Hollande said France would do everything to identify and return the victims to their families. The French government has mobilized massive forces to deal with the crash. More than 600 mountain-tested firefighters and soldiers are combing the crash site, and psychological teams are in place for the victims' families. Locals from the surrounding villages are pouring forth to help. Seventy-eight-year-old Lucien Baudin is offering a room in his home.

LUCIEN BAUDIN: (Through interpreter) I willingly give it out of solidarity for these poor families because I'm filled with so much pain for them.

BEARDSLEY: Merkel insisted on flying over the site in a helicopter. Seventy-two Germans lost their lives in the crash.


CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL: (Through interpreter) I want to say to all the families, friends and relatives of the victims that you will be welcome here.

BEARDSLEY: In Paris, Remi Jouty, head of the French Aviation Investigation Authority said that the cockpit voice recorder was in better shape than they initially thought.


REMI JOUTY: We just succeeded in getting an audio file which contains usable sounds and voices.

BEARDSLEY: And he said the plane remained intact until impact. They know that because radar tracked it to the mountain, and the debris is contained into a small area. An explosion in midair, said Jouty, would project debris for miles. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.