An Airbus operated by Lufthansa’s Germanwings budget airline crashed in a remote snowy area of the French Alps on Tuesday and all 150 on board were feared dead.
French President, Francois Hollande, said he believed none of those on board the A320 had survived, while the head of Lufthansa spoke of a dark day for the German airline.
Germanwings confirmed its flight 4U9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf crashed in the French Alps with 144 passengers and six crew members on board.
Hollande said: “The conditions of the accident, which have not yet been clarified, lead us to think there are no survivors.”
Officials said the plane issued a distress call at 0947 GMT (0547 ET), about 52 minutes after take-off.
Unofficial website tracking data suggested the aircraft made a sharp descent from its cruising height of 35,000 feet but that it did not appear to have plummeted as quickly as aircraft known to have lost complete control.
However, safety experts warned against reading too much into the third-party data, especially over remote areas, and said black boxes holding the probable answers to the crash were expected to be retrieved quickly.
The accident happened in an alpine region known for skiing, hiking and rafting, but which is hard for rescue services to reach. As helicopters and emergency vehicles assembled, the weather was reported to be closing in.
“There will be a lot of cloud cover this afternoon, with local storms, snow above 1,800 meters and relatively low clouds. That will not help the helicopters in their work,” an official from the local weather center told Reuters
Hollande said there were likely to be significant numbers of Germans on the flight. Spain’s deputy prime minister said 45 passengers had Spanish names.
It was the first crash of a large passenger jet on French soil since the Concorde disaster just outside Paris nearly 15 years ago. The A320 is a workhorse of worldwide aviation fleets. They are the world’s most used passenger jets and have a good though not unblemished safety record.
Germanwings Says Will Do Everything Possible To Clear Up Crash
Germanwings’ managing director Oliver Wagner said on Tuesday his company could not give any reasons for the plane crash in France yet but would do everything it could to find out what happened.
“Our deep sympathy goes out to the relatives and friends of the victims,” Wagner said.
Germanwings, which is the low-cost unit of German flag carrier Lufthansa, was scheduled to hold a news conference at 1400 GMT at its head office in Cologne.