As it happened: Plane crashes in French Alps
The Local · 24 Mar 2015, 13:42
Published: 24 Mar 2015 11:35 GMT+01:00
Updated: 24 Mar 2015 13:42 GMT+01:00
- A Germanwings A320 has crashed in the southern French Alps.
- The plane had 150 people on board, all reported to be dead.
- The Spanish government has confirmed that there were 45 Spaniards on board, as well as German and Turkish passengers.
- Germanwings crash: What we know so far
- IN PICTURES: Germanwings plane crashes in French Alps
- Tearful relatives of crash victims gather at airport
Mañana visitaré la zona del accidente aéreo en #Francia. MR— Mariano Rajoy Brey (@marianorajoy) March 24, 2015
17:13 International reaction
US President Barack Obama was briefed early Tuesday on a plane crash in the French Alps that killed 150 people, the White House said. Obama's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism Lisa Monaco appraised the president about the Germanwings Airbus 320 crash.
"There is no indication of a nexus to terrorism at this time," National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said.
She said, "Security officials have been in touch with French, German, and Spanish
authorities and have offered assistance."
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and loved ones."
European leaders also expressed their shock and sadness at the airline tragedy.
Denmark’s foreign minister sent his "deepest condolences"
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström was among those leading the condolences for the families of the victims on Tuesday.
My deepest condolences to the relatives and the families of the victims of German Wings Airbus 320 #dkpol— Martin Lidegaard (@martinlidegaard) March 24, 2015
Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said he was "deeply shocked" by the Germanwings accident.
17:10 Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve arrives on the scene
17:07 "A body that moved"
There are unsubstantiated reports that there could be a possible survivor. Haute-Provence Info tweeted a quote attributed to General David Galtier, "The urgency is to rescue any possible survivors; we might have seen a body that moved."
16:36 First images of crash scene emerge
Général David Galtier : "l'urgence c'est de secourir les éventuels survivants, on aurait aperçu un corps qui bouge" #crashA320— Haute-Provence Info (@HPInfo) March 24, 2015
The below picture was reportedly taken by Christophe Castaner, MP in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region and mayor of Forcalquier.
He tweeted of the "horror" at in the mountains, adding that the plane was "totally destroyed".
Ski instructor and mountain guide Mathieu Subé, who lives in the neighbouring town to Barcelonnette said that it began to snow a little before 2pm. He explained to Catalan daily La Vanguardia that access to the accident site was "very difficult" and said bad weather would worsen access even more as the day went on.
"I know the area well; there are very steep and remote areas which are covered in snow," he said.
16:12 What we know so far
- A Germanwings A320 has crashed near the town of Barcelonnette at an altitude of 2000m in the southern French Alps.
- The plane was carrying 150 people: 144 passengers, two pilots and four crew members.
- French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said helicopters have just arrived at the site and no survivors have been found.
- The plane was carrying 45 Spaniards, as well as German, French and Turkish passengers.
- Passengers included a group of 16 German secondary school students who had just taken part in an exchange with a Catalan school.
15:58 - Helicopters reach wreckageFrench Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said that a helicopter has landed near the wreckage and found no survivors, reported the AP news agency.
15:52 The last commercial airline accident in Spain was the Spanair flight, 5022 (JK5022) which crashed just after take-off from Madrid’s Barajas en route to Gran Canaria (pictured below). The aircraft was a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 and the accident, on August 2008, left 162 people dead. Remarkably 18 people survived.
15:39 President of the European Council, Donald Tusk has expressed his condolences
In a statement on the European Council's website he said:
"On behalf of the European Union, I wish to convey my deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the flight that crashed in southern France this morning.
"Let me also express my sympathy and solidarity to the governments of all affected nations, including to the French President, the German Chancellor and the Spanish Prime Minister."
15:21 La Vanguardia are reporting that forensic officers from Catalan's Los Mossos police force have begun taking DNA samples from family members of crash victims, who are currently gathering in Barcelona's El Prat airport.
French air force helicopters before taking off for the crash site. Photo: AFP
15:16 Germanwings press conference
Germanwings are currently holding a press conference and have confirmed that there were 67 German passengers on board.
They confirmed that 144 passengers, including two babies, and six crew including two pilots and four flight attendants were aboard.
The plane had undergone a routine mechanical check on Monday in Düsseldorf. Its last major service was in summer 2013 - as called for under the manufacturer Airbus' maintenance schedule.
The pilot had more than 10 years' experience with Lufthansa and Germanwings, and a total of 6,000 flight hours on the A320 model.
Germanwings, Lufthansa, and Airbus technicians are on their way to the crash site to help the investigation in any way they can.
"Together with the authorities we will do everything to understand the cause of this accident as quickly and comprehensively as possible," Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann said.
15:12 Family members of crash victims hold onto one another at Barcelona's El Prat airport (Quique García/AFP)
15:07 French emergency services workers (back) and members of the French gendarmerie gather in Seyne, south-eastern France, near the site where a Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed in the French Alps. (Photo: Boris Horvat/AFP)
15:02 - More on the distress signal confusion
The crew of the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday did not send a distress signal, civil aviation authorities told AFP.
"The crew did not send a Mayday. It was air traffic control that decided to declare the plane was in distress because there was no contact with the crew of the plane," the source said.
14:58 Wreckage spread over 2km square
According to reports on BFM TV the debris of the place is spread over an area around the two kilometre squared at an altitude of 2,700 metres.
Part of the aircraft is said to have come down in the village of Barcelonnette.
Local German newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten is reporting that there were 16 students and two teachers from the Joseph-König Gymnasium in Haltern am See, a town roughly 80km from Dusseldorf, according to La Vanguardia.
14:42 Angela Merkel to travel to crash site tomorrow
The German Chancellor has just announced on television that she will travel to the crash site tomorrow.
14:29 Germanwings has released an emergency telephone number for family members of victims. From Spain call 902 400 012 and from Germany 0 80011 3355 77
Exchange students returning home among crash victims
14:18: Some 15 of the victims were German students returning home after a student exchange trip with Catalonia’s Giola Institute secondary school in Linars del Vallès, a staff member confirmed to The Local.
14:15 "No sign of crash survivors" says Spanish king.
King Felipe, who announced he was cancelling a state visit to France in the wake of the Germanwings plane crash said there were German, Spanish and Turkish passengers on board.
14:10 - 'I heard a loud thud overhead, like the sound of an avalanche'
Eyewitness report from a resident in the village of Le Vernet, near to the crash site.
“This morning I heard a huge thud and then I saw several fighter jets fly over the village,” the resident told Le Parisien newspaper. “The initial sound I heard was like an avalanche or like the sound of dynamite that they blow up to cause an avalanche.”
“Then around noon I looked out the window and I saw a column of smoke rising into the air. From the centre of the village to the crash site must be around 3km. But we are in the mountains and there’s a lot of snow.
“At the moment there are helicopters flying over overhead.”
The crash of the Germanwings Airbus flight is one of the worst aviation disaster in France in the last 40 years, dating back to the crash of a Turkish airlines flight in the Oise region near Paris in 1974, that killed all 346 people on board.
In 1981, all 180 people on board a passenger plane were killed when the aircraft crashed into mountains on the island of Corsica.
The last major plane crash in France was the Concorde crash at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris in July 2000, that killed 109 passengers and crew.
My thoughts are with friends & relatives of those on board #Germanwings flight from Barcelona. We are ready to assist any Britons affected— Simon Manley (@SimonManleyFCO) March 24, 2015
Consternado por el accidente aéreo en Los Alpes. Una tragedia. Trabajamos con las autoridades francesas y alemanas en la investigación. MR— Mariano Rajoy Brey (@marianorajoy) March 24, 2015
"We do not yet know what has happened to flight 4U 9525. My deepest sympathy goes to the families and friends of our passengers and crew 1/2— Lufthansa (@lufthansa) March 24, 2015
"...on 4U 9525. If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors.“ Carsten Spohr 2/2— Lufthansa (@lufthansa) March 24, 2015
Shares in Airbus, the European aerospace giant, slumped on news of the accident, down 1.77 percent to 58.94 euros at 1100 GMT after briefly sliding two percent.
President François Hollande says "It is a new aviation tragedy, a grief that we have to experience. The first support we offer is solidarity".
12:12 - 'No survivors expected'
12:17 The flight path has been recorded here:
12:07 Live webcam from where flight has reportedly gone down.
12:03 - People in Dusseldorf, Germany, where the flight was heading are desperately trying to find out information andwe are hearing reports that the website for the airport has crashed. People are being advised to contact Germanwings through the company site, but that too is proving problematic.
INFO: We have recently become aware of media reports speculating on an incident though we still do not have any own confirmed information...— Germanwings (@germanwings) March 24, 2015
12:02 - Emergency crews are on their way to the crash site, reports says, including firefighters and emergency first aid teams.
11:58 - The flight had 142 passengers, 2 pilots, and 4 stewards.
Germanwings, the airline, is advising people to go to its website,www.germanwings.com, for updates but the site is loading very slowly.
The tweet above shows when the plane lost contact with control towers.
11:56 - According to French media two helicopters from France's aviation police (DGAC) located the wreckage of the plane near Prads-Haute-Bléone, between Digne-les-Bains and Barcelonnette.
11:52 - Reports about the number of people who were on board the flight are varying. French newspaper Le Parisien reported that 142 people were on board the plane, whereas other sources are quoting 152 people in all.
11:50 - Here's the latest from AFP:
An Airbus A320 plane crashed on Tuesday in the southern French Alps, security sources said.
One of the sources said the plane belonged to Germanwings, an affiliate of German airline Lufthansa, travelling between Barcelona and Dusseldorf. The single-aisle A320 typically seats 150 to 180 people.
11:48 - The flight, number GWI9525, took off at 10.01am from Barcelona and was due to land in Düsseldorf at 11.49am.
11:45 - According to reports a Germanwings plane has crashed near the town of Dignes in the southern French Alps. Reports say the plane which was heading from Barcelona in Spain to Dusseldorf in Germany crashed around 11am.