Airliner crashes in French Alps

BERLIN - A Germanwings Airbus A320 airliner has crashed in the French Alps between Digne and Barcelonnette, aviation officials and police have said.

The plane, flight 4U 9525, had been en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf with 144 passengers and six crew. No one is expected to have survived.

The plane crashed after an eight-minute descent, an official said. It is not clear if it sent a distress signal.

French and and German leaders have spoken of their shock.

"This is the hour in which we all feel deep sorrow," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters, adding that she was planning to travel to the crash site.

A rescue helicopter has reportedly reached the site of the crash, in a remote mountain area. Gilbert Sauvan, a local council official, told Les Echos newspaper that the plane had "disintegrated".

"The largest debris is the size of a car," he said.

Several German newspapers are reporting that the passengers included a German school class on its way back from an exchange trip.

Sandrine Boisse, a tourism official from the ski resort of Pra Loup, told the BBC that she had heard a strange noise in the mountains at around 11:00 (10:00 GMT).

"At first we thought it was on the ski slopes, an avalanche, but it wasn't the same noise," she said. "I think it was the noise of when a plane goes very quickly down."

Comments (1)

Herald not accurate. They say there were 148 on board! Your article is fully detailed `like it is`. Perhaps there is no adequate supervision at the Herald. May their souls rest in peace.

Mutongi Gava - 25 March 2015

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