Probe opened into offensive messages posted on Twitter

A number of users wrote insulting tweets after news of the Germanwings crash “I hope all the dead in the plane accident are Catalan,” read one example

The Spanish authorities have begun investigating a number of messages that were posted on Twitter in the wake of Tuesday’s Germanwings air crash, in which 150 people died.

A total of 24 offensive tweets posted on the micro-blogging site are under scrutiny, on the basis that they could constitute offenses of hatred and discrimination.

The message above, for example, reads: “OK, I’m going to say it: but half of Spain is hoping that the 45 Spanish surnames belong to Catalans, Basques and panchitos.” The latter term is an offensive nickname for Latin Americans. The message was posted in response to the government’s announcement that there were “45 Spanish surnames” among the victims of the air crash.

Other messages read: “I hope that all of the dead in the plane accident are Catalan;” “The plane crash is fine for me if there were Catalans inside;” and “Alright, alright, let’s not create a drama, they were Catalans in the plane, not people.”

Speaking from El Prat Airport in Barcelona, a spokesperson for the regional police force, Xavier Porcuna, explained that the case was open and that the number of people under investigation could rise.

Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz has ordered Spanish security forces to investigate the origins and authors of the comments.