A passenger plane flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf has crashed in a remote and mountainous area of southern France.
The Airbus A320 making the flight for Lufthansa’s lowcost arm, Germanwings, crashed near the small mountain village of Barcelonette in the southern Alps with at least 144 passengers and six crew members on board.
Spain’s deputy prime minister said 45 passengers were believed to be Spanish nationals. A spokesman for France’s interior ministry said the passenger manifest was being verified.
Flight 4U9525 disappeared off the radar at around 11.20am, Le Figaro reported. The plane dropped from 11,500 metres to 2,100 metres (38,000ft to 7,000ft) in nine minutes between 10.31am and 10.40am, air radar services said. Initial reports said a distress call was made by the pilots at 10.47am but French authorities later said this was not the case.
Sebastien Giroux, one of the first eyewitnesses, said he saw the aircraft flying very low. “There was no smoke or particular sound or sign of anything wrong, but at the altitude it was flying it was clearly not going to make it over the mountains,” he told BFM-TV. “I didn’t see anthing wrong with the plane, but it was too low.”
The plane crashed at 2,700 metres altitude in the Alps, in the commune of Méolans-Revel, an isolated area of small villages and hamlets that are difficult to reach. Debris is scattered over an area of 2 sq km, according to French search and rescue unit.
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