Menu
News

Germanwings crash site "a picture of horror" for rescuers

Search and rescue personnel at the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 in the French Alps
Search and rescue personnel at the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 in the French Alps

An Airbus A320 operated by the Germanwings airline travelling from Barcelona to Dusseldorf has crashed in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, southern France.

These are the latest updates:

  • French President Francois Hollande says no survivors expected
  • 150 passengers, two pilots and four flight attendants were believed to be on board
  • Two Spanish babies and 16 children from the same German school have died
  • Local MP describes 'horror' of crash site scattered with 'nothing but debris and bodies'
  • French civil aviation authority says the plane disappeared at around 10.47am local time (9.47am GMT) - 46 minutes after take-off
  • Plane lost altitude four minutes after reaching its cruising height
  • Local people say the plane was flying 'unusually low' over mountains
  • French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said "no explanation for the crash can be excluded"
  • The crash site has been found by investigators at around 6,500ft in the Alps
  • The first images of the snow-covered area have started to emerge
  • Shares in Lufthansa and Airbus dropped 4.7% and 2.1% after accident
  • A black box has been found at the crash site.

  
Rescuers and officials last night spoke of the "picture of horror" on the French mountainside where a German airliner crashed in mysterious circumstances, killing all 150 people on board.

The Germanwings Airbus A320 sent out no distress signal before flying headlong into the side of a 9,000ft (2,743m) snow-covered peak in the French Alps.

SPECIAL COVERAGE:

AUSSIE MUM AND SON AMONG THE DEAD

SPANISH SCHOOL MOURNS TRAGIC LOSS

CRASH A TRAGEDY ON OUR SOIL: PRESIDENT
 

None of the 144 passengers and six crew aboard the flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf - including a German school party of 16 pupils and two teachers - are believed to have survived the impact. "The aircraft was pulverised," one rescue worker said last night. "Even the bodies are unrecognisable."

Germany's Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was flown over the area, said the crash site was "a picture of horror," adding: "The grief of the families and friends is immeasurable. We must now stand together."
 

 

Flight 4U 9525 vanished from radar screens at about 10.53 am local time yesterday, 52 minutes after take-off from Barcelona. After reaching its cruising altitude, it steadily shed height for eight minutes - and veered slightly off course -  without reporting a problem or sending a "Mayday" signal.

The French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, said: "No explanation for the crash can be excluded at this stage." The Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, refused to speculate on the causes of the disaster and urged "caution".

YOU CAN FOLLOW LIVE COVERAGE HERE

It emerged, however, that a French fighter jet had been scrambled to search for the flight during the eight minutes in which it lost height and veered off course.

Officials told the Le Monde website that this was a precaution in case the airbus had fallen victim to an act of terrorism. At this stage, there was no evidence that this was what  had happened, officials said.

Rescue workers last night located one of the aircraft's two black box flight recorders. Mr Cazeneuve said that he hoped it would explain the mystery of the crash "within a few hours". French authorities, following standard procedure, opened a criminal investigation for manslaughter.
 

 

The crash was the first suffered by a cut-price airline in Europe. It was all the more disturbing for involving the type of standard aircraft, and the kind of cheap flight, which now criss-cross European airspace every day.

Germanwings is the low-price arm of the German flag-carrier Lufthansa. The victims are believed to include 63 Germans and 45 Spaniards, including two babies. A "devastated" German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is to visit the crash scene in the Alpes-de-Hautes-Provence today. She will be accompanied by President François Hollande and the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy.

 

 

EARLIER: Confusion reigns as authorities ask how the Germanwings flight crashed

AIRLINE officials say confusion continues to surround the final moments of the Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps last night.

All 150 passengers on board the plane are feared dead, as reports from the crash site suggest it could take "days" to recover the bodies of victims from an area of debris spanning kilometres.

President Francois Hollande has said there will be a full investigation into what caused the plane to plummet into the side of a mountain in a remote region 100 miles north of Nice, calling it "a tragedy on our soil".

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that search teams had managed to land near the site but found no survivors, adding that there were no indications as to what caused the crash.

 

Speaking in Cologne, Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann revealed that the plane began descending shortly after it reached cruising height following take-off from Barcelona airport.

10.01am CET Flight 4U 9525 takes off

10.44am Plane reaches cruising altitude

10.45am Plane begins unexplained descent

10.47am Air traffic controllers issue 'third phase' distress call

10.53am Radar and radio contact breaks off

A long descent

According to Mr Winkelmann, the plane started to descend very shortly after it reached its cruising altitude - and continued to do so for eight minutes until it crashed into the mountain at an altitude of some 5,000ft.

He said there was no explanation for why this descent from 38,000ft began, but said the 24-year-old plane was checked the day before the flight and that the captain on board was very experienced, with more than 10 years' service and 6,000 hours of flying time.

Was there a distress signal?

France's aviation regulator has said that the plane "did not itself make a distress call" during its eight-minute descent from cruising altitude.

While Germanwings' Mr Winkelmann said there was still some confusion as to whether a distress signal had been sent from the plane, the DGAC authority said that controllers on the ground issued the "distress" call - the third and most serious of three stages of alerts used to help coordinate rescue efforts when an aircraft is considered in difficulty.

"The combination of the loss of radio contact and the aircraft's descent which led the controller to implement the distress phase," a spokesman said.

Why no word from the cockpit?

The fact that there was seemingly no distress signal issued by the pilots themselves does not necessarily tell us much about what was going on in the cockpit at the time.

Speaking in London, aviation expert Mary Schiavo told CNN that a sudden disaster that disabled the crew, like rapid decompression, was just one of a number of possible explanations.

"[The fact there was] no distress call would explain why the pilots didn't turn back for other airports or veer from the course that was heading straight for the mountains," she said.

"[But] with no distress call we don't know what the pilots knew, what the plane was doing and we don't know the emergency.

"There are a lot of different scenarios [that involve] no distress call and that explain why they continued to descend into the Alps," she added.

Another analyst, David Soucie, told the broadcaster that the very act of putting out a distress signal takes some concentration and time and would not necessarily be "the priority" for pilots struggling with an emergency situation.

Did the plane crash in a storm?

UK meteorologists have said they expect bad weather to be ruled out as a cause for the crash at an early stage in the investigation.

Though it is mountainous, there were no significant storms reported in the area.

Dr Rob Thompson, from the University of Reading, told Sky News: "The weather conditions in the area of southern France where the crash is reported to have occurred look like nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year."

What about terrorism?

While there has been little word on the possibility that the crash could be a terror attack in France or Germany, the US has been quick to rule it out as a likely cause.

White House national security spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan told Fox News: "There is no indication of a nexus to terrorism at this time."

 

Airbus A320 flight 4U9525 goes down near Alps in France

An Airbus A320 operated by the Germanwings airline travelling from Barcelona to Dusseldorf has crashed in the Alpes de Hautes provence in southern France.

These are the latest updates:

  • French President Francois Hollande says no survivors expected
  • 144 passengers, two pilots and four flight attendants are believed to be on board, according to Germanwings
  • French civil aviation authority says the crew had sent a distress signal at 10.47am local time (9.47am GMT) - 46 minutes after take-off
  • Plane lost altitude four minutes after reaching its cruising height
  • Local people say the plane was flying 'unusually low' over mountains
  • The crash site has been found by investigators at around 6,500ft in the Alps
  • The cause of the crash remains unclear
  • Germanwings said it had 'no confirmed information' as the news broke

Germanwings has issued a statement via Twitter saying the airline is still working to confirm the incident through its "own information".

It said it had "recently become aware of media reports speculating on an incident".

Lufthansa, of which Germanwings is a subsidiary, has issued a statement from its CEO, Carsten Spohr, calling it a "dark day"

The airline requested the public "monitor our website" and said it would provide information as soon as it was available.

Topics:  editors picks french alps germanwings



Landry accuses media of undertaking Joyce 'witch-hunt'

ROCKHAMPTON VISIT: Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry at CQLX

'Barnaby's been absolutely massacred in this'

Community rallies behind sons of mum who drowned in Emu Park

Tracey Williams died saving her son from the water in Emu Park.

THOUSANDS already raised as family prepares for life without Tracey

1500 players prepare for extended Rocky netball season

LET'S PLAY: Rockhampton Netball Association treasurer Julie-Ann Thackeray is gearing up for another big year.

Successful association to celebrate milestone this year

Local Partners