LiveAs it happened: Airbus A320 crash

Summary

  1. A Germanwings Airbus A320 has crashed in the French Alps near Digne, with 150 people on board
  2. Flight 4U 9525 was travelling between Barcelona and Duesseldorf
  3. Passengers believed to include 67 Germans and 45 Spanish citizens
  4. French President Francois Hollande said he believed none of those on board had survived
  5. Sixteen German students on a Spanish exchange trip on flight
  6. Opera singers Oleg Bryjak and Maria Radner also on board
  7. Search-and-rescue teams reach the crash site at Meolans-Revels
  8. Cologne-based Germanwings is a low-cost airline owned by Lufthansa

Live Reporting

By Saira Asher, Claire Brennan, Alex Kleiderman, Caroline McClatchey, Josephine McDermott and Thom Poole

That brings us to the end of our live coverage. The recovery operation will resume Wednesday morning at first light. You can continue to get the latest developments on our main story.

Forecast for crash site

BBC Weather

Latest

Tomorrow:

Sunrise: 05:33

Snowfall: 20cm (until Wednesday)

Max Temp: -2C (28F)

Min Temp: -7C (19F)

Recovery 'could take days'

The flight came down in a remote area of the French Alps, and the recovery team face a daunting task.

"Considering the conditions there, it will take several days to bring the bodies down, if the weather allows," said Serge Degandt, a local politician to AFP. "At the time of the crash, it was blue skies, visibility was perfect. But it turned bad shortly after."

AFP

Last performance of opera singers

Opera singers Oleg Bryjak and Maria Radner, who were on the flight, performed for the last time in Wagner's Siegfried on Saturday, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona confirmed.

A statement said: "Mrs Radner, who was travelling to Duesseldorf with her husband and baby, both also dead, performed Erda."

Gran Teatre del Liceu

Mr Bryjak is pictured below in the same performance. The Liceu theatre has lowered its flags and will observe a two-minute silence tomorrow.

Gran Teatre del Liceu

Cruising crashes 'rare'

That the flight appeared to get into trouble as it was at cruising height strikes Forbes contributor Dan Reed as unusual. He writes that the "cruise" phase of the flight, i.e. altitudes above 30,000ft (9,100m), is one of the safest, with crashes far more likely during takeoff. What caused the flight to crash is not yet known, but owners Lufthansa are assuming it was an accident.

Debris pictures

More stills taken from video showing the debris spread over the mountains.

AFP
AFP
Reuters

Spanish passenger

Victor Barrio, mayor of the Spanish city of Jaca in the Pyrenees, says a woman originally from the city died in the crash along with her baby boy.

He said Marina Bandres, who lived in Britain, had been attending a funeral in Jaca. He did not know if her husband was on the flight with her and their baby son, Julian, who was seven or eight months old.

Spanish prayers

Students have attended mass in Llinars del Valles, the Spanish town where a group of German teenagers on board the Germanwings flight had been visiting as part of an exchange programme.

Reuters

Australian victims

Two Australians - a woman and her adult son - were on board the Germanwings flight, the Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this shocking tragedy," she said, adding it would be inappropriate to give further details at the present time.

Police guard

A rescue official says about 10 police officers will spend the night at the crash site to guard it. Lt Col Jean-Marc Meninchini of the regional police rescue service said search operations will resume at daybreak. He said the recovery operation is expected to last a week.

Books of condolence

Books of condolence are ready to sign at a sports hall in the south-eastern French village of Seyne-les-Alpes, which has become the hub for all the rescue teams and accident investigators.

AFP

'Symbol of unity'

Tom Burridge

BBC News, Barcelona

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the Catalan president of this region, Barcelona being the capital, will travel together to the crash site tomorrow. Two politicians, who are poles apart on so many issues, travelling together with be a symbol of unity.

'Little remained'

Stephane Duclet, a journalist with French newspaper La Provence, has flown over the crash site.

"From what we were able to see, we had great difficulty in actually locating the plane because very little of it remained. Looking from above, not even the fuselage was intact. All we could make out was small parts."

Fresh snowfall tomorrow

Chris Fawkes

BBC Weather

An area of low pressure will bring fairly strong winds at altitude and also some fresh snowfall to the southern French Alps. The snow could hamper the recovery operation. Some lowering cloud bases and some poor visibility over the mountain tops could affect the safe operation of the recovery helicopters.

BBC

Opera singers

Earlier, an opera house in Duesseldorf said bass baritone Oleg Bryjak was on the plane. Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu said Maria Radner, like Mr Bryjak, had performed in its production of Richard Wagner's Siegfried.

Debris pictures

Here are a pictures from video taken by news agency AFP, showing the crash site and search and rescue teams:

AFP
AFP
AFP

Crash site security

Alex Capstick

BBC News, Seyne-les-Alpes

Helicopters have stopped flying to the remote crash site. Military personnel are camping there overnight to secure the site.

Search halted

The search has been called off for this evening and will resume "at first light" says Pierre-Henri Brandet, spokesman for the French interior ministry in Seyne-les-Alpes.

Second opera singer on plane

A Spanish opera house says a second singer, German contralto Maria Radner along with her husband and baby, were among the 150 passengers feared dead.

'Unfit to fly'

Sofia Bettiza

BBC News, Duesseldorf

A Lufthansa spokesperson has said: "We had to cancel seven Germanwings flights departing from Duesseldorf today because of difficulties with crew members. They told us they felt unfit to fly."

'Horror picture'

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says the crash site is "a picture of horror". After being flown over the area and briefed by French authorities, he said: "The grief of the families and friends is immeasurable. We must now stand together.

EPA

"We are united in our great grief."

Church service

Katya Adler

Europe editor

The church in Haltern was packed, candlelit and filled with pain.

The priest read out the names of the 16 teenage boys and girls who died today. On behalf of this shocked community he called out the question "Why?". The service was open-ended.

Families and friends are invited to stay all night if they want to light candles and try to find some comfort.

BBC

Football tribute

Germany's national football team will play with black armbands when it takes on Australia in a friendly on Wednesday. There will also be a minute's silence before kick-off.

Obama offers condolences

BBC

Speaking before a joint press conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the White House, President Obama said "our thoughts and our prayers are with our friends in Europe".

"It's particularly heartbreaking because it apparently includes the loss of so many children, some of them infants," he said.

American officials are working to confirm how many US citizens may have been on board, he added.

Candles outside school

Sixteen German teenagers and two teachers were among the passengers. The group, from Joseph-Koenig school in Haltern, western Germany, were returning from a Spanish exchange programme.

Getty Images

Track record

Until today, Germanwings had recorded no accidents involving fatalities since it was founded in 2002, Associated Press reports.

Germany's Spiegel magazine has reported an incident from 2010, when two pilots nearly passed out as they landed in Cologne. The magazine said contaminated cabin air was suspected.

Airport silence

Brussels Airport

tweets: Moment of silence to honour the victims of the #germanwings crash today.

Expert analysis

Aviation expert Dr Steven Wright told BBC Radio 4 that as well as examining the flight recorders, investigators will want to look through the maintenance records for the aircraft.

"For an aircraft to lose 32,000ft in eight minutes is really, really unusual," he said.

Night has fallen

Alex Capstick

BBC News, Seyne-les-Alpes

I'm at the base for all the rescue teams and accident investigators. Helicopters take about four minutes to get to the remote location of the crash site. They found debris and the black box. Night has fallen but helicopters are still taking off. It has been difficult today because of icy rain.

More from the Lufthansa press conference at El Prat Airport in Barcelona, from where the plane took off:

  • About 150 relatives and friends have been at the airport today
  • The company will disclose more information about nationalities later this evening
  • Its investigation team is in contact with law enforcement authorities in the relevant countries

'Days to recover bodies'

Anna Holligan

BBC News

Police say it will take days to recover the bodies due to the treacherous terrain. The airline is arranging transport for family and friends who want to visit the crash site.

'Supporting relatives'

Lufthansa's Europe vice president Heike Birlenbach said at a press conference at Barcelona Airport: "We will do our utmost to support the relatives and the friends of these passengers on board. We are now looking into options and possibilities to bring them to the scene which is not yet confirmed. So we'll have to see whether that makes sense."

BBC

Opera singer on board

An opera house in Duesseldorf says bass baritone Oleg Bryjak was among the 150 people onboard the plane.

The Deutsche Oper am Rhein said Mr Bryjak was on his way back from Barcelona, where he had sung Alberich in Richard Wagner's Siegfried at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

Director Christoph Meyer said: "We have lost a great performer and a great person in Oleg Bryjak. We are stunned.''

Aircraft checked yesterday

A Germanwings spokeswoman gives details of the aircraft:

  • The Airbus A320 had its first flight on 29 November, 1990
  • Lufthansa took it into service in 1991 and sold it to Germanwings in 2014
  • Its last routine check was in Duesseldorf yesterday
  • It had completed 58,313 flight hours
  • It mainly focused on short continental flights
  • The plane was delayed taking off but a reason could not immediately be given
AP

Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, says it is working on the assumption that the crash was an accident.

Jenny Hill

BBC Berlin correspondent

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said France and Spain and Germany have been plunged into deep sorrow. Two of her cabinet have already been sent to the crash site and she will follow on Wednesday.

Madrid press conference

Spain's deputy prime minister, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, says "The minister of development is going to the area to be able to check on what's happening with her French and German counterparts, to see the difficulties this kind of operation might encounter."

She said Spain would co-operate in every aspect including logistics, operations and investigation.

BBC

'Flight recorder transferred'

According to Le Monde, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has said the flight recorder will be looked at immediately and has been transferred to the Office of Investigations and Analysis, which describes itself on its website as "the French authority responsible for safety investigations into accidents or incidents in civil aviation".

Tributes paid

Katya Adler

BBC News, Germany

Hundreds of students have gathered outside their school in Haltern. Some lighting candles. Some hug. Some cry.

AFP