Minister: Germanwings crash site a picture of horror

2015-03-24 22:02
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Germanwings plane crash

Horrendous imagery, debris, bodies and a scene of horror at the crash site of the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps.

France - Horrendous imagery, nothing but debris and bodies and a scene of horror are some of the ways people described the crash site of the Germanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps en route from Barcelona to Düsseldorf. Here is a recap of how the news of the crash trickled in.

19:55

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the crash site is "a picture of horror".

After being flown over the crash scene and briefed by French authorities, he said: "The grief of the families and friends is immeasurable. We must now stand together. We are united in our great grief."

He was also quoted by his ministry as thanking the French for their "exemplary" help.

The Germanwings flight crashed in the French Alps en route from Barcelona, Spain, to Düsseldorf, Germany.

19:35

Germany's soccer federation says the national team, the World Cup holder, will play with black armbands when it takes on Australia in a friendly on Wednesday.

It said there will be a minute of silence before kick-off for the 150 people who died in the crash.

Federation President Wolfgang Niersbach said "this overshadows everything".

"We owe it the victims and their families to commiserate as a soccer family."

19:05

A Lufthansa vice president says the company is treating the crash as an accident for "the time being".

Heike Birlenbach told reporters in Barcelona that for now "we say it is an accident. There is nothing more we can say right now."

She also said that the plane, bound for Düsseldorf in Germany, took off from Barcelona 30 minutes late on Tuesday, but did not know what caused the delay.

The Airbus A320 was inspected by Lufthansa's technical team on Monday.

Germanwings is a low-cost carrier owned by Lufthansa.

18:50

An opera house in Düsseldorf says bass baritone Oleg Bryjak was among the 150 people onboard the plane.

Officials believe all onboard were likely killed.

The Deutsche Oper am Rhein said Bryjak was on his way back from Barcelona, where he had sung Alberich in Richard Wagner's Siegfried at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

Director Christoph Meyer said that "we have lost a great performer and a great person in Oleg Bryjak. We are stunned."

18:30

A French interior ministry official says the black box has been recovered from the site.

The official, who was not authorised to speak about the crash publicly, confirmed to The Associated Press that the black box was in hand.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve earlier on Tuesday said the black box had been located and would be handed to investigators in coming hours.

17:50

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says a black box has been located at the site in the French Alps where a plane crashed while travelling from Barcelona to Düsseldorf.

Cazeneuve, speaking from the Alps region, said the black box had been located and would ultimately help in the investigation into the cause of the crash on Tuesday.

It wasn't immediately clear if the box had been recovered.

17:25

A spokesperson for the French Civil Aviation authority says the plane never sent out a distress signal.

Eric Heraud said the plane lost radio contact at 10:30 on 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.

17:15

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 spokesperson 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 Düsseldorf, 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."

16:55

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says 10 helicopters and a military plane have been mobilised to the crash site.

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.

16:40

A German official says a high school group returning from an exchange in Spain was on board the Germanwings plane.

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 on Tuesday.

North Rhine-Westphalia state Education Minister Sylvia Loerhmann said on 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.

16:20

A spokesperson for the US National Security Council says there is no indication the plane crash was the result of terrorism.

Bernadette Meehan said in a statement on 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.

16:05

A local lawmaker says the debris from the plane crash is spread over 100m-200m.

Gilbert Sauvan, president of the general council of the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, told the AP that "everything is pulverised".

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.

15:50

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 on 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 Düsseldorf, 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.

Read more on:    germanwings  |  france  |  germanwings crash  |  air crashes

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