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Summary

  1. Search and recovery efforts on Wednesday 25 March in the French Alps, after a Germanwings plane crashed a day earlier with 150 people on board
  2. Airbus 320 Flight 4U 9525 was travelling between Barcelona and Duesseldorf
  3. The aircraft's black box voice recorder has been recovered and contains a 'usable audio file'
  4. The casing of the second box - the flight data recorder - has been found, but not its contents
  5. Memorial services being held as mourning for the victims begins
  6. Among the dead are believed to be 72 German nationals and at least 51 Spaniards
  7. Citizens of the UK, Australia, Japan, Israel, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Denmark, the Netherlands, the USA and Belgium were also on board
  8. French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy have visited the crash site

Live Reporting

By Lauren Turner, Claire Brennan, Claudia Allen and Richard Irvine-Brown

All times stated are UK

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That brings us to the end of our live coverage for today. You can continue to get the latest developments

on our main story.

Spohr: What they [the families] have gone through is incomprehensible. It was difficult to be there.

Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann tells reporters whoever wants to come to Germany or France from the other side of the Atlantic will be supported financially.

Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann (L) and Carsten Spohr from Luftahansa (R)
AP
Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann (L) and Carsten Spohr from Lufthansa (R)

Spohr: The aircraft will have 150 seats and we will see over the next few hours how many of those we can fill.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr says there will be a special flight to Marseilles tomorrow at 08:45 (local time) from Barcelona for family members. With the assistance of the French authorities they will then bring relatives to the crash site.

Lufthansa and Germanwings executives are expected to give a news conference shortly at El Prat airport in Barcelona.

The BBC's Tim Willcox has been reporting from Seyne-les-Alpes on Wednesday, watching as search and rescue teams head out to the treacherous terrain of the mountainside crash site.

He said it has been "a day of grief, bewilderment, but of huge professionalism here".

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George Baker

Lufthansa's flight training centre in Arizona.
George Baker
Lufthansa's flight training centre at Phoenix Goodyear Airport, Arizona.

George Baker sent us this picture of the German flag flying at half mast at a Lufthansa flight training centre in Arizona.

Reuters reports a third US citizen was on board the flight. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the name of the victim was not being released at this time.

BBC correspondent Tom Burridge

Llinars del Valles, Spain

There were solemn faces and sunglasses to hide the tears, as children in this small village held a private ceremony at their school. They read a poem and listened to a song that their German friends, here on an exchange, had played to them.

In the village's main square there was a moment's silence, a scene repeated across Spain, as the public learnt more about the Spanish passengers on board. It emerged a team of Swedish footballers made the best decision of their lives when they opted not to catch the flight.

The authorities in Catalonia have been collecting DNA samples from relatives, who are staying near Barcelona Airport, and Lufthansa is working to organise transport to take some of the families to the crash site.

Friends of the German students from the crashed plane attend a mass in Llinars del Valles, near Barcelona, Spain, on 24 March, 2015
AP

Rana Rahimpour

BBC Persian Service

The two Iranian victims on Germanwings 4U 9525 were both sports journalists who had travelled to Barcelona to cover Sunday's match between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Milad Hojatoleslami worked for semi-official Tasnim news agency and Hossein Javadi was a journalist at the Vatan-e-Emrouz newspaper.

They had waited at the airport in Barcelona for two days to find cheap tickets for a flight to Germany.

Milad Eslami (left and back) and Hossein Jawadi (left and front) were reporters from Iran
BBC
Milad Eslami (left and back) and Hossein Jawadi (left and front) were reporters from Iran
The crash site in the French Alps
Getty Images

Here is another view of the area in the French Alps where teams are searching, as shown in this image provided by the French Interior Ministry.

Many countries are mourning the victims of the crash, with more than a dozen nations involved. French President Francois Hollande, seen here between Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has promised to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with all of those affected.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, President Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
AFP/Getty

Some more news on the US citizens thought to have died in the crash.

Drexel University said in a statement that Emily Selke graduated with honours in 2013, having been a music industry major, AP reported.

A statement posted on the Facebook page of her university sorority Gamma Sigma Sigma said Emily "always put others before herself and cared deeply for all those in her life".

Two Americans who were on board the Germanwings flight have been named as Yvonne Selke, from Virginia, and her daughter Emily Selke, AP reported.

AP said Yvonne Selke was a US government contractor. She was employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, in Washington, and worked with the Pentagon's satellite mapping office, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

The BBC's Jenny Hill, who is in Haltern, says the trip the German exchange students took to Barcelona was oversubscribed.

"Scores of pupils from the school had wanted to join the trip," she said. "The school held a lottery to see which of the students would get a place."

A memorial of flowers and candles can be seen in front of the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium secondary school in Haltern am See on 25 March, 2015
Getty Images

A reminder of the inhospitable terrain investigators have been working in.

A helicopter flies near Seyne, south-eastern France, on March 25, 2015, near the site where a Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed in the French Alps (BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP

A crisis centre has been set up in the French Alps to help deal with the aftermath of the crash.

The BBC's Tim Willcox visited the site, which is where families of the victims are likely to be accommodated.

French investigators say usable data has been extracted from the cockpit voice recorder of Germanwings 4U 9525, but it has so far yielded no clues as to the cause of the plane's crash. Latest BBC News story

here.

A student who knew some of the German students who were killed in the plane crash is comforted during a minute's silence in front of the council building in Llinars del Valles, near Barcelona, Spain. The group of teenagers had been staying there on an exchange trip.

A student who knew some of the German students involved in a crashed plane, reacts during a minute of silence in front of the council building in Llinars del Valles, near Barcelona, Spain
AP

German, French and Spanish flags, tied with a black ribbon, have been placed in a field near the village of Le Vernet, close to the crash site.

German, French and Spanish flags
AFP/Getty

BEA investigators have released an image of the sealed container holding the flight voice recorder. It does contain usable sounds and voices, according to Mr Jouty.

A sealed container holds the black box voice recorder from the German Airbus on 25 March, 2015
BEA

A photograph of British victim Martyn Matthews, pictured here with his wife Sharon and children Jade and Nathan, has now been released.

Martyn Matthews, pictured here with his wife Sharon and children Jade and Nathan, died in the crash
AP

Jouty: Small size of debris suggests aircraft did not explode in flight

Mr Jouty confirmed that members of his team had listened to the recording and heard voices, but would not give any more details.

Jouty: Hope to have first rough ideas from the voice recorder in a few days. A fuller understanding will take weeks or even months.

Mr Jouty, seen here addressing reporters at the BEA's headquarters north of Paris, said the aircraft's descent began about one minute after its last routine communication with air traffic controllers.

Remi Jouty addresses press conference (25 March 2015)
AP

Jouty: We have been able to extract a usable audio file from the sound recorder.

Jouty: Sound recorder was found on site around 17:00 local time on Tuesday and was quickly sent to BEA, arriving at 09:45 on Wednesday.

Jouty: Last altitude recorded by radar was around 6,000 feet, approximately the altitude of the mountains.

Jouty: Last message broadcast from the aircraft was routine, confirming an instruction from the control tower.

Remi Jouty from the French investigating organisation, BEA is giving a news conference. He says the accident site is very steep, and very difficult to access, even on foot.

There is a reminder of what we know so far

here as investigators work to find out exactly what happened to the Germanwings flight.

The psychologist in charge of supporting families in Duesseldorf, Sabine Rau, said not knowing what happened to the plane will be difficult for relatives to deal with.

"At the beginning, people have a gigantic need for information," she told the BBC. She said some people may find solace in travelling to the crash site in order to be close to the unfolding situation.

"For others it's better to to stay home, with the people they love," she added. "The most difficult thing for us is to watch people suffer. Within minutes, these people got this news, and their lives were turned upside down."

This image shows Lufthansa employees in Frankfurt mourning the victims of the crash.

Employees of German airline Lufthansa mourn the victims of the Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings plane crash at the Lufthansa Aviation Center in Frankfurt am Main, central Germany, on March 25, 2015
AFP

Mr Rajoy has thanked all of the volunteers for their help and said the French people had been generous.

Chancellor Merkel, President Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at the news conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Chancellor Merkel, President Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at the news conference on Wednesday afternoon.
BBC

Chancellor Merkel praised the French people and especially the local residents for their readiness to help.

President Hollande says that the casing of the second black box recorder has been found, but not the recorder itself.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking alongside President Hollande, said: "Everything is being done in order to attempt to understand the inexplicable, even if it takes a long time. It is a catastrophe in an inaccessible geographical region."

Hollande: Families of the victims will be welcomed and supported. A team of psychologists, carers and local teachers acting as interpreters has been assembled.

Francois Hollande
BBC