A flight operated by the airline Germanwings crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday as it was covering the Barcelona-Düsseldorf route.
French President François Hollande has confirmed that there were 42 Spaniards on board, while sources from the Spanish deputy prime minister’s office have said that 45 of the passengers have Spanish surnames. There are not thought to be any survivors.
The Airbus A320 aircraft, flight number GWI9525, took off from El Prat at 9.35am on Tuesday, but disappeared off radars around 11am and crashed down near Barcelonnette, in the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, according to French media outlets.
The French transport secretary, Alain Vidal, said on Tuesday that the plane sent out a mayday signal at 10.47am. According to public news channel France Info, the aircraft crashed in Val d’Allos, an area with ski runs that are only accessible via trails, meaning helicopters will be required to access the site.
French civil aviation authorities confirmed that two helicopters have seen the remains of the aircraft near the municipality of Prads-Haute-Bléone, between Digne-les-Bains and Barcelonnette.
At around 12 noon, Germanwings sent a message via Twitter saying that it had no “own confirmed information” about the crash, saying that people should check its website for updates. The website, however, was inaccessible by 12.30pm. Later, a number of tweets were published on the feed of parent company Lufthansa, which confirmed that the flight had been involved in an accident and that the Airbus A320 was carrying 144 passengers and six crew members. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the passengers and crew members,” the airline wrote.
President Hollande also made a statement on Tuesday morning, saying: “We are not expecting survivors from the air accident.”
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve will travel to the crash site later today, the government said.
The French Foreign Ministry also confirmed on Tuesday that the A320 that has crashed was one of the oldest planes in the company’s fleet. Meanwhile, AP reported that France’s Interior Ministry had confirmed that debris had been located at an altitude of 2,000 meters.
The specialized website Flightradar24 lost track of the aircraft at 10.39am at an altitude of 6,800 feet (around 2,000 meters).
The Cologne-based company, which is owned by Lufthansa, offers flights between Spain and Germany starting from €39.90.