In the Shadow of the Crash

Published on by Peter Dalsgaard Thomsen (author), María Gabriela Medina (author), Martí Roma (author)

Barcelona–El Prat Airport

Terminal B in the Barcelona Airport was buzzing with life in the hours following the tragic Germanwings crash. Not just because of the media-attention, but also because life must go on, even in the wake of a terrible accident.


ToThe unusually gray weather above Terminal B in El-Prat Airport in Barcelona may be a metaphor for the tragic events that occurred less than 24 hours ago.

At 10 AM, half an hour later than expected, Germanwings Flight 4U9525 took off towards Düsseldorf with 146 passengers on board. An hour later, the plane crashed in the French Alps, killing every single person on board.


About seven hours after the plane disappeared, the airport was again buzzing with life with journalists and media from around the world, ready to ask questions about the accident. Everyone was scouting, hoping for someone to give them the answers, they so desired. However, they found little to no answers from the reluctant flight personel and police.

Lack of answers led to theories. Was it really an accident, they asked. In a continent still shocked by the recent attacks in Paris, the possibility of a terrorist plot was lurking in the back of the head of many of the people in the airport that morning. A theory the aircraft company later denied.

The journalists would come to find some answers, though, when vice-president of Lufthansa in Europe, Heike Birlenbach, arrived straight from Germany. It was obvious from the disturbed look on her face, that the crash affected her deeply.

“We are truly shocked and saddened by these events”, she said.

However, most answers that were given only led to more questions. She refused to comment on any specifics about the accident. “Everything will be speculation”, she said, adding that the investigation is in course.

“It really is a dark day in our history,” she continued. 

In the terminal, journalists were still eyeing for the friends and families of the victims. As passengers were rushing through the terminal to reach their flight, armed guards escorted the relatives through the airport to avoid the curious eyes of journalists.

Journalists preparing to be on air to report the latest news to their audiences.

Journalists preparing to be on air to report the latest news to their audiences.

Some were crying, others hugging. Some had a bleak stare, others raged at the journalists. One was held by her family, as if the grim message had drained her of life.

As night approached on the tragic day, the contrast between life and death grew even more apparant in terminal B. Happy passengers were smiling on their selfies ten meters from where mothers and fathers were told they would never see their children again.

But as the sun sets and a new day arises, so does the airport return to a state of normality in the shadow of the crash.

To see the action in the airport, see the video below.

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