French President François Hollande says no survivors are likely in the Alpine crash of a passenger jet carrying 148 people.
The Germanwings passenger jet crashed Tuesday in the French Alps region as it traveled from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, 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. Germanwings is a low-cost affiliate of German airline Lufthansa.
In a briefing on 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.
Regional newspaper La Provence, citing aviation officials, said the Airbus plane with flight code 4U9525 carried at least 142 passengers, two pilots and four flight attendants.
A police helicopter said the crash happened in a mountainous area called Les Trois Evèches, rising to 1 400 metres and very difficult to access. A witness who was skiing in the area described having “heard an enormous noise”, a French television channel reported.
The French civil aviation authority said the plane disappeared from radar screens after issuing a distress call over Barcelonette, about 100 km north of Cannes.
Germanwings is a lower-cost unit of Lufthansa, Germany’s biggest airline, that has been operating since 2002 – part of traditional national carriers’ response from rising European budget carriers. It serves mainly European destinations.
The area where the plane went down is near a popular ski resort.
The German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation is sending three people to France to join the investigation, spokesman Germout Freitag said. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, the country’s top security official, was headed to the crash site. – Sapa-AP