On March 24, 1.30pm local time, Germanwings has confirmed that Flight 4U 9525 from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, an Airbus A320 aircraft, suffered an accident over the French Alps.
The plane was carrying six crew members and 144 passengers including two babies. The plane crashed at 10:53 (5:53am ET) in a secluded area within Digne-les-Bains in the Alpes de haute Provence region.
All passengers presumed dead
Barcelona’s El Prat airport confirmed there were 47 Spaniards, two Argentinians, one American, one Colombian, one Mexican, one Belgian and one Moroccan national. Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann said there were 67 German citizens among those on board. Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop confirmed two Australians were also killed in the crash.
Among the passengers who died in the crash were 16 students and two teachers from a German high school. Local mayor Bodo Klimpel said in a statement that the group of students and teachers were traveling back home after participating in a foreign exchange program.
Germanwings and Lufthansa extend their condolences to the families of the victims.
“Everyone at Germanwings and Lufthansa is deeply shocked and saddened by these events. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the passengers and crew members. Germanwings is conducting a full investigation,” the company said in a statement.
Lufthansa and Germanwings have established a telephone hotline for all the families of the passengers should they need care and assistance. The numbers are 0800 014 8904 (UK) and +1 407 362 0632 (worldwide).
Reduced to fragments
The Airbus A320 aircraft disintegrated into fragments, one of the investigation team members, Gilbert Sauvan, told CNN. He said each fragment was just the size of a small car, and body parts were scattered several hundred meters from the crash site. There were no bodies retrieved due to bad weather condition with snow predicted to fall on Wednesday, CNN reported.
There were no sound clues yet in terms of the cause of the crash. The blackboxes were already recovered but no significant data were retrieved yet, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told CNN. The crash site was an “out-of-the-way” area, long and snowy, difficult to access, local mayor Pierre Martin-Charpenel said.
Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 was flying at 38,000 feet but dropped to 11,400 feet 8 minutes later, CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo said. The plane’s speed then dropped from 551 mph to 480 during descent. This could be an indication that the plane’s engine was not stalled and that the pilot had control over the plane, Schiavo said. She said if the engine stalled, the plane would have crashed immediately instead of trying an emergency landing as data suggested. If the pilot was guiding the plane for an emergency landing, the danger lies on the fact that wide fields are hard to come by in the mountains, Schiavo said.
Also read: MH370 Search Update
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