A Germanwings Airbus A320 is reported to have crashed in the French Alps, leaving as many as 148 passengers and airplane crew dead. The plane, which was travelling from Barcelona to the German city of Dusseldorf is said to have crashed at about 10:15am local time. Germanwings Flight 9525 departed from the Spanish city at 9:55 a.m for the two-hour flight. This was about 20 minutes later than had been expected but the delay has not been explained. Twenty two minutes into the flight the Airbus 320 is said to have disappeared from radar, resulting in a distress call being sent from the air traffic controllers.
In a statement, Germanwings, which is a budget subsidiary of the well-known airliner, Lufthansan, said 144 passengers and 6 crew were aboard the plane when it crashed. “All employees of Germanwings and Lufthansa are deeply saddened. Their thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the passengers and crew,” Germanwings tweeted. The airline added that a rapid descent that lasted about eight minutes may have preceded the crash that happened in the French Alps. In addition, they said that air traffic controllers lost contact with the jet at about 6,000 feet. Germanwings said the pilot had more than 10 years of experience and that the plane had been inspected last summer, adding that safety experts and crash investigators were on their way to the crash site.
A very distraught French President Francois Hollande confirmed that it is not likely that there can be any survivors. “It’s a tragedy on our soil,” he said. “I want to express all my solidarity with the families of the victims of this air accident. This is bereavement, a tragedy,” he added. Hollande also said the plane was carrying nationals from Spain, German and Turkey, adding that he was not aware of any French citizens aboard the plane since a manifest had not been released. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel confirmed that many of the passengers were from Germany, adding that her thoughts were with the families and loved ones of the victims and said she would go to the crash site on Wednesday. “In these difficult hours our thoughts are with all those who must fear their relatives are among the passengers or crew members,” Merkel said.