Merkel salutes school's courage after Germanwings crash

20th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday visited a high school which lost 16 students and two teachers in the Germanwings crash in the French Alps, praising how the community handled the tragedy.

"What sadness you have here, but also with how much love and sympathy... you have managed to overcome this horrific event," Merkel told students and staff at the Joseph-Koenig Gymnasium in western Germany's Haltern am See.

"Haltern is an example of how one can, despite a horrible and sad situation, remain a community," she said in her first visit to the school since the tragedy on March 24.

"Life is unpredictable, and we should be thankful for every good day we have and for each day that we have our health," said Merkel, dressed in black and clasping her hands together like in a prayer.

The students and teachers were travelling home from Barcelona after a school exchange programme when their plane was deliberately crashed by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board.

It later emerged that Lubitz suffered from depression, and that the airline, a low-cost subsidiary of Lufthansa, knew about his health condition.

The parents of the student victims have turned down Lufthansa's compensation offer and accused it of ignoring their suffering, writing in an open letter to the airline's chief executive to voice "disappointment" at its conduct "since a pilot from your company killed our children".

Lufthansa disbursed 50,000 euros ($55,000) per victim in immediate aid after the crash.

It said on June 30 that it would additionally offer compensation of 25,000 euros to the families of each of the 72 Germans killed, plus 10,000 euros to each immediate relative, including parents, children and spouses.

But the 32 parents of the Haltern students had written that to put this value "on the life of each of our children and on our pain" was offensive.

© 2015 AFP

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