Painstaking recovery mission at treacherous Alps crash site

FILE - In this Thursday March 26, 2015 file photo, a helicopter flies over rescue workers at the crash site of the Germanwings jet near Seyne-les-Alpes, France. The somber mission to recover the remains of 150 people killed instantly when the Germanwings flight slammed full speed into the Col de Mariaud is not a quiet one and crucial physical evidence for the crash investigation can be gathered only when the mountains cooperate. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani, File)

SEYNE-LES-ALPES, France (AP) — A somber and treacherous recovery effort continues in the French Alps for Germanwings Flight 9525.

Crews are working to recover evidence and the remains of the 150 people killed.

Helicopters ferry the teams into the ravine where the plane went down from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., while the light is good. It is too steep to land, so the 40 crewmembers are winched down from the choppers one or two at a time with packs bulging with clear plastic bags, evidence tags, and ropes to keep from slipping when the black Alpine stone crumbles beneath their feet. Each investigator is linked to a local mountaineer, familiar with the terrain and with the skills to keep them safe.

Most pieces of the wreckage are smaller than a car door, and crucial pieces slide downward with each step the recovery workers take. Some slip into a mountain stream.

As for victims’ remains, investigators say they “have not found a single body intact.” DNA is being used to identify the hundreds of biological elements that are retrieved.

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