SEYNE-LES-ALPES, France - Just over a week after a Germanwings plane crashed into the French Alps, investigators have finished retrieving human remains from the site and are now trying to match them with DNA profiles from the 150 people killed - an arduous task that could leave families waiting for months.
The extraordinary recovery process mobilized hundreds of people and cut a stony road into a forested Alpine mountainside to help the team bring back anything they found, from a body part to a tiny shred of skin. Not a single intact body was found.
Francois Daoust, head of the France's IRCGN national criminal laboratory in Pontoise outside Paris, said that as of Monday afternoon the forensic teams on the crash site and in Paris had isolated 78 distinct DNA profiles from the hundreds of samples recovered at the site - leaving nearly as many unaccounted for.
Meanwhile, they had received complete DNA profiles for only about 60 victims from their relatives because it takes time to gather samples from families still reeling from their loss.
Based on black-box cockpit recordings recovered the day of the crash, investigators believe the Germanwings copilot, Andreas Lubitz, locked the captain out of the cockpit and deliberately slammed the plane into the mountain, killing everyone on board.
The impact of the March 24 crash shattered the plane and all those inside, ripped a black box from its orange protective casing, and left shreds of metal and cloth scattered across hundreds of yards.
Lt. Col. Jean-Marc Menichini, who has been involved in the operation focusing on recovering victims' remains, said Wednesday "there are no longer any visible remains" at the crash site.
A special unit of mountain troops, with help from German investigators, is now clearing the crash site of everything else that is there - including debris and personal effects.
On Tuesday, German daily Bild and French magazine Paris Match said their reporters have been shown a video they say was taken by someone inside the cabin of the plane shortly before it crashed, where passengers can be heard screaming "My God" in several languages.
The Associated Press could not independently confirm the reports.