Unfolding story of airline disaster in southern France
Developments in the crash of a Germanwings airliner over southern France Tuesday are being posted by Associated Press as details become available.
5:25 p.m. (1625 GMT, 12:25 p.m. EDT)
A spokesman for the French Civil Aviation authority says the plane that crashed in the French Alps with 150 people on board never sent out a distress signal.
Eric Heraud said the plane lost radio contact at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, but "never declared a distress alert itself."
He said it was the combination of loss of radio contract with control and the plane's descent which prompted the control service to declare a distress.
Heraud said six investigators from the Bureau of Accident Investigations, or BEA, were en route from Paris and would be at the crash site by evening. One investigator from the region was already present, he said.
Officials believe all onboard were likely killed when the plane crashed on its way from Barcelona in Spain to Duesseldorf, Germany.
5:15 p.m. (1615 GMT, 12:15 p.m. EDT)
The German North Rhine-Westphalia state Education Ministry says a group of 16 tenth-graders and their two teachers were on board the Germanwings plane that crashed in France.
Ministry spokeswoman Barbara Loecherbach told The Associated Press on Tuesday they had confirmed the school group from a high school in the city of Haltern, northeast of Duesseldorf, were on board the plane.
Haltern Mayor Bodo Klimpel told reporters at a press conference "this is, of course, the worst thing you could imagine."
4:55 p.m. (1555 GMT, 11:55 a.m EDT)
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says 10 helicopters and a military plane have been mobilized to the site in the French Alps where a Germanwings plane crashed en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf.
At a news conference at Seyne les Alpes, Cazeneuve left open the possibility that some of the 150 people onboard could have survived.
He said "the violence of the shock leaves little hope," but refused to be categorical.
A photo of the crash scene from La Provence newspaper showed scattered flecks across a mountain and several larger pieces which appear to be part of the body of the plane, with five windows seen on one and four on another.
4:40 p.m. (1540 GMT, 11:40 a.m EDT)
A German official says a high school group returning from an exchange in Spain was on board the Germanwings plane that crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 people onboard.
The school they had visited, about 45 minutes from Barcelona, told The Associated Press that 16 students from the town of Haltern in Germany had been on a weeklong exchange that ended Tuesday.
North Rhine-Westphalia state Education Minister Sylvia Loerhmann said Tuesday that "we know that the school group boarded the plane," the dpa news agency reported.
Local police said they are still waiting on official confirmation the students had been killed, but have already sent staff to the school to assist students and teachers. The school refused to comment.
4:20 p.m. (1520 GMT, 11:20 a.m EDT)
A spokeswoman for the U.S. National Security Council says there is no indication the plane crash in the French Alps was the result of terrorism.
Bernadette Meehan said in a statement Tuesday "there is no indication of a nexus to terrorism at this time."
The White House says American officials have been in touch with French, German and Spanish officials to offer assistance.
Officials say all 150 people onboard were likely killed when the plane crashed in the French Alps Tuesday as it was flying from Barcelona in Spain to Duesseldorf, Germany.
4:05 p.m. (1505 GMT, 11:05 a.m EDT)
A local lawmaker says the debris from the plane crash in the French Alps that killed all 150 people on board is spread over 100-200 meters (110-220 yards).
Gilbert Sauvan, president of the general council of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, told the AP that "everything is pulverized."
He said the largest pieces of debris are the size of a small car.
Sauvan said no one can access the site from the ground, but that helicopters are circling the area to get information and 500 firefighters and gendarmes are in the area.
3:50 p.m. (1450 GMT, 10:50 a.m EDT)
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says a helicopter has managed to land near where a passenger plane carrying 150 people crashed in the Alps, and has found there were no survivors.
The weather in the area deteriorated Tuesday afternoon, with a chilly rain falling.
Gilbert Sauvan, of the local council, told Les Echos newspaper, "The plane is disintegrated."
"The largest debris is the size of a car," he added.
The Germanwings Airbus 320 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, Germany, came down in the mountains on Tuesday morning after an eight-minute descent from its cruising height. Officials said they are still establishing whether there was a distress call.
3:20 p.m. (1420 GMT, 10:20 a.m. EDT)
The boss of airline Germanwings says the plane went into a long descent before it crashed into the French Alps, likely killing all 150 people on board.
Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann said the plane began descending again shortly after it reached its cruising height following takeoff from Barcelona Airport. The descent lasted eight minutes, he told reporters in Cologne. Radar and air traffic control contact broke off at 10:53 a.m.
He said the pilot had more than 10 years' experience working for Germanwings and its parent airline Lufthansa. Airbus said the A320 was delivered to Lufthansa in 1991.
Germanwings said the passenger manifest included two babies. Officials believe there were 67 German nationals on board.
3:05 p.m. (1405 GMT, 10:05 a.m. EDT)
Officials at two airports are rushing to provide help and information to relatives and friends of the passengers aboard the crashed Germanwings flight 9525.
In Barcelona, from where the plane took off Tuesday morning, police escorted people, some of them crying, through a terminal and took them to a secure part of the airport. They did not speak to the media, and one woman held a jacket over the head of a sobbing woman.
In Duesseldorf, the destination airport, family members arriving at the airport were taken from the main terminal to a nearby building. Airport employees partly covered the building with sheets to keep the relatives out of the eye of the public.
A total of 150 people were on board the plane when it crashed in the French Alps. No survivors are expected to be found.
2:50 p.m. (1350 GMT, 9:50 a.m. EDT)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will head to the remote mountain in the French Alps where a Germanwings passenger plane crashed with 150 people aboard.
She says her thoughts are "with those people who so suddenly lost their lives, among them many compatriots."
Merkel says she will travel to the region on Wednesday, a day after her foreign and transport ministers were heading to the crash site.
She is urging people not to speculate on the cause of the crash until an investigation can be conducted.
No survivors are expected in the crash of the plane, which was traveling Tuesday morning from Barcelona, Spain, to Duesseldorf, Germany.
2:05 p.m. (1305 GMT, 9:05 a.m. EDT)
The owner of a French Alpine camping ground says he heard a series of loud noises in the air before a Germanwings passenger plane carrying 150 people crashed to the ground.
Pierre Polizzi told The Associated Press the noise began at 11:30 a.m.
"There are often fighter jets flying over, so I thought it sounded just like that. I looked outside but I couldn't see any fighter planes."
"The noise I heard was long - like 8 seconds - as if the plane was going more slowly than a military plane speed. There was another long noise about 30 seconds later."
No survivors are expected in the crash of the plane that was traveling from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, Germany.
Polizzi said it would be difficult to get to the site of the crash. "The mountain is snowy and very hostile."
1:45 p.m. . (1245 GMT, 8:45 EDT)
Spanish King Felipe has canceled his state visit to France following the crash of a plane in the southern French Alps.
The plane was flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf in Germany, and Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told reporters in Seville that there were 45 people aboard the plane with Spanish last names but that authorities have not confirmed how many of them were Spanish.
Felipe met with French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday morning before ending his visit.
Airline Germanwings says there were 150 people on board the Airbus 320. Hollande has said no survivors are expected to be found.
1:40 p.m. (1240 GMT, 8:40 a.m. EDT)
Airline Germanwings says there were 144 passengers and six crew aboard a plane that crashed in the French Alps.
Manager Oliver Wagner did not say whether there were any survivors and added it was not currently possible to give more information on how the crash occurred. "I promise that we will do everything to clear up the events thoroughly," he said. "We are endlessly sorry for what has happened."
Other officials have given slightly differing figures for the number on board.
The Airbus 320 crashed Tuesday morning during a flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, Germany. French President Francois Hollande has said no survivors are expected.
The Germanwings logo, normally maroon and yellow, was blacked out on its Twitter feed.
1:25 p.m. (1225 GMT, 8:25 a.m. EDT)
The Airbus 320 plane that went down in the French Alps is a workhorse of modern aviation. Similar to the Boeing 737, the single-aisle, twin-engine jet is used to connect cities that are between one and five hours apart. Worldwide, 3,606 A320s are in operation, according to Airbus, which also makes the smaller but near-identical A318 and A319 and the stretched A321. An additional 2,486 of those jets are flying.
The Germanwings A320 crashed Tuesday crashed in the south of the Alps while flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf in Germany. No survivors are expected.
The A320 family has a good safety record, with just 0.14 fatal accidents per million takeoffs, according to a Boeing safety analysis.
1:10 p.m. (1210 GMT, 8:10 a.m. EDT)
The CEO of Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, says he doesn't yet have any information about what happened to its flight from Barcelona to Duesseldorf that French officials say has crashed in the Alps.
"My deepest sympathy is with all the relatives and friends of our passengers and crew on 4U 9525," Carsten Spohr was cited in a tweet by Lufthansa as saying. "If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors."
Antonio San Jose, spokesman for Spanish airport authority AENA, told the Onda Cero radio station that authorities do not yet know how many Spaniards were on the jet but that the authority's best information is that 147 people were aboard the plane.
"It would be a miracle if there were survivors but hopefully there will be. We do not know the causes, simply that it lost contact," San Jose said.
1 p.m. (1200 GMT, 8 a.m. EDT)
French President Francois Hollande has spoken briefly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to express solidarity following the crash of a Germanwings plane in southern France.
The German ambassador is leaving imminently with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve for the area of the crash.
The Airbus A320 crashed in the south of the Alps while flying from Barcelona to Duesseldorf in Germany. Holland says no survivors are expected.
Spanish King Felipe and his wife are in France on a previously scheduled visit and are currently meeting Hollande.
12:40 p.m. (1140 GMT, 7:40 a.m. EDT)
French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet says debris from the crash of an Airbus A320 has been located and the plane crashed at 2,000 meters altitude in the Alps.
Brandet told BFM television that he expected "an extremely long and extremely difficult" search and rescue operation because of the area's remoteness.
The airplane sent out a distress signal at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, Brandet said.
He said the passenger manifest is being verified.
12:30 p.m. (1130 GMT, 7:30 a.m. EDT)
French President Francois Hollande says no survivors are likely in the Alpine crash of a passenger jet carrying 148 people.
The Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed Tuesday in the French Alps region as it traveled from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, French officials said. Eric Ciotti, the head of the regional council, said search-and-rescue teams were headed to the crash site at Meolans-Revels.
In a live briefing Tuesday, Hollande said the area of the crash was remote and it was not clear whether anyone on the ground had been hurt. Hollande said it was probable that a number of the victims are German.
"It's a tragedy on our soil," he said, adding he would be speaking shortly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The French newspaper La Provence, citing aviation officials, said the Airbus plane carried at least 142 passengers, two pilots and four flight attendants.
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