Jet crashes in Alps with 150 aboard; no survivors expected
A passenger jet carrying some 150 people crashed yesterday in a remote area of the French Alps as it flew from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, authorities said. As search-and-rescue teams raced to the region, France's president warned that no survivors were expected.
The crash site was at Meolans-Revels, near the popular ski resort of Pra Loup, according to Eric Ciotti, the head of the regional council in southeast France. But with mountains all around and few clear trails into the snow-covered area, access to the crash site was expected to take time.
The Germanwings Airbus A320 plane left Barcelona at 9:55 a.m., sent out a distress signal at 10:45 a.m., then crashed in a mountainous zone in France at an altitude of about 2,000 metres (6,550 feet), said Pierre-Henry Brandet, the French Interior Ministry spokesman.
Brandet told BFM television he expected "an extremely long and extremely difficult" search-and-rescue operation because of the area's remoteness.
Germanwings is a lower-cost unit of Lufthansa, Germany's biggest airline. It has been operating since 2002. It serves mainly European destinations.
Germanwings official Oliver Wagner told German television that the plane carried 144 passengers and 6 crew members on board. He did not give a breakdown of nationalities.
The Germanwings logo, normally maroon and yellow, was blacked out on its Twitter feed.
There was no obvious reason why the plane went down. Captain Benoit Zeisser of the Digne-le-Bains police said there were some clouds in the region but the cloud ceiling was not low and there did not appear to be turbulence.