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.
- A Germanwings Airbus A320 has crashed in the French Alps near Digne, with 150 people on board
- Flight 4U 9525 was travelling between Barcelona and Duesseldorf
- Passengers believed to include 67 Germans and 45 Spanish citizens
- French President Francois Hollande said he believed none of those on board had survived
- Sixteen German students on a Spanish exchange trip on flight
- Opera singers Oleg Bryjak and Maria Radner also on board
- Search-and-rescue teams reach the crash site at Meolans-Revels
- Cologne-based Germanwings is a low-cost airline owned by Lufthansa
Snowfall: 20cm (until Wednesday)
Max Temp: -2C (28F)
Min Temp: -7C (19F)
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."Copyright: AFP
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."Copyright: 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.Copyright: Gran Teatre del Liceu
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.
More stills taken from video showing the debris spread over the mountains.Copyright: AFPCopyright: AFPCopyright: Reuters
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.
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.Copyright: Reuters
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.
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 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.Copyright: AFP
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.
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."
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.Copyright: BBC
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.
Here are a pictures from video taken by news agency AFP, showing the crash site and search and rescue teams:Copyright: AFPCopyright: AFPCopyright: AFP
BBC News, Seyne-les-Alpes
Helicopters have stopped flying to the remote crash site. Military personnel are camping there overnight to secure the site.
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.
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.
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."
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.Copyright: EPA
"We are united in our great grief."
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.Copyright: BBC
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.
- Copyright: 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.
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.Copyright: Getty Images
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.
tweets: Moment of silence to honour the victims of the #germanwings crash today.
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.
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
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.
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."Copyright: BBC
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.''
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
Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, says it is working on the assumption that the crash was an accident.
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.
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.Copyright: BBC
- Copyright: EVN
Aerial pictures from the crash site show emergency response teams examining debris.
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".
BBC News, Germany
Hundreds of students have gathered outside their school in Haltern. Some lighting candles. Some hug. Some cry.Copyright: AFP
- Copyright: AFP
Candles and flowers have been laid outside the Joseph-Koenig secondary school, in tribute to the pupils and teachers believed to have lost their lives.
Josep Aixandri, a councillor in Llinars del Valles, told Spanish newspaper ABC his daughter hosted one of the German students.
He said: "We're very upset because they are children with whom we have shared so many things.
"It hurts me especially because I know my granddaughter was a classmate of one of these young girls and she is going to have a very bad time."
BBC News, Barcelona
The German exchange students reported to have been on the flight, caught a train to Barcelona airport this morning, according to a local politician.
They had been staying with Spanish families in Llinars del Valles. The school involved in the exchange refused to make any comment. It said it would post a statement on its website in due course.
Earlier at a news conference at Seyne les Alpes, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve left open the possibility that some of the 150 people onboard could have survived.
He said "the violence of the shock leaves little hope," but refused to be categorical.
Debris from the plane has been located by helicopter, but there is no access to the crash site by road.Copyright: BBC
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said a flight recorder has been located at the site in the French Alps where the plane crashed, Associated Press reports.
He said it had been located and would ultimately help in the investigation into the cause of the crash.
It was not immediately clear if it had been been recovered.
A flight recorder from the plane has been found, according to the French Interior Minister.
French President Francois Hollande, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Spain's King Felipe and his wife Queen Letizia have attended a crisis meeting at the Interior Ministry in Paris.Copyright: Getty Images
Spain's king and queen have cancelled their planned state visit.
Mr Klimpe said lessons were suspended at Joseph-Koenig School today and a special assembly will take place on tomorrow.
He said: "We are getting support from all sorts of authorities and we have a number of people well trained in counselling."
"The sympathy is overwhelming," he added.
The mayor of Haltern in Germany, Bodo Klimpe, has briefed the media about the children from Joseph-Koenig School due to be on this morning's flight.Copyright: BBC
He says 16 Year 10 students studying Spanish were due to return having been away for just under a week.
Parents came to the school when no mobile telephone contact could be made "expecting the worst", he said.
French police have tweeted a graphic of the area where recovery efforts are being focused. A no-fly zone has been implemented above the crash site.
Independent news producer Chris Bockman, at Airbus in Toulouse, says that the company's German president, Tom Enders, is about to fly over the crash site in a helicopter from Marseilles.
- Copyright: @Gendarmerie
French police tweeted this data picture, which details emergency response efforts. It says 210 officers are currently at the scene of the crash, including a group of specially trained mountain police. Nine helicopters are also in the area. A further 350 officers are due to be deployed to help with recovery efforts.
Dr Paul Williams, atmospheric scientist at the University of Reading, says it is unlikely weather conditions will have played a part in the crash, based on the information currently available.
He said there was "some light clear air turbulence forecast" near the flight route but "nothing out of the ordinary... nothing that a modern airliner couldn't normally cope with".
Footballer Benedikt Hoewedes, who hails from Haltern and was part of the 2014 World Cup winning squad, posted a series of tweets about the tragedy. Speaking in German he said his thoughts were with the families. "Anybody could have been on that plane," he added.
There is more information on the schoolchildren believed to be on the plane.
Marti Pujol, mayor of the village of Llinars de Valles near Barcelona, told AFP: "There were 16 children and two teachers who had spent a week here, poor things. The children were aged about 15," He said the pupils and teachers left for Barcelona airport on Tuesday morning, though he could not confirm that they had boarded the Germanwings flight as planned.
The schoolchildren are from Haltern am See in northern Germany, "All the signs point to them being on board the plane" when it crashed, said a spokesman for the local authorities in Haltern, Georg Bockey.
Le Dauphine newspaper has published what it says is a photo of the crash site.
The White House says US officials have been in touch with French, German and Spanish officials to offer assistance. In a statement, US National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan says there is no indication the crash was the result of terrorism.
tweets: Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr and representatives of the German government are on their way to France. An evening press release is planned.
Sebastien Giroux told France's BFM TV that he saw the plane just before the crash. "There was no smoke, nothing else, but given the altitude he had, he could not pass the mountains."
There were two babies on the flight, says Germanwings.
BBC Trending has been taking a look at the fake images purporting to be from the crash site that have already started circulating online. They include a video and a photograph recycled from past incidents.
There are thousands of the Airbus A320 aircraft model in use by various airlines. The aircraft type has suffered 11 fatal accidents since coming into service in 1988. The most recent was in December 2014 when an AirAsia plane crashed into the Java Sea killing 162 people.
Belgian Newspaper Le Soir reports Didier Reynders, Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister, saying at least one Belgian victim was on the flight.
French police at the crash site have told Reuters news agency that no one survived and it would take days to recover the bodies of those on board due to difficult terrain.
There was some speculation in German media that a computer glitch caused by frozen sensors could have forced the plane into a steep dive. However, Germanwings has confirmed the A320's computer systems had been updated and do not believe this could be a cause.
BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott says investigators will not just be searching the crash site. They will be looking in other locations over a wide area to make sure they do not miss a vital clue, such as a piece of the plane that might have fallen off, that could shed light on the reasons for the crash.
Council official Gilbert Sauvan tells Les Echos newspaper, "The plane is disintegrated". He added that "the largest debris is the size of a car".
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says a helicopter has managed to land near where the plane crashed in the Alps, but found no survivors, according to AP.
Sixteen schoolchildren and two teachers are believed to have been on the aircraft, a spokeswoman for the German town of Haltern am See has said. "We don't have any official confirmation yet," she added.
Local media reports (in German) that the children are from the Joseph Koenig school. It says the building has been closed and students sent home.
Airbus says a go-team of technical advisors will be dispatched to provide full assistance to French BEA in charge of the investigation.
Michel Suhubiette, a mountain guide based in Digne, tells French newspaper La Provence: "We heard a plane passing at a very low altitude but we didn't see it and it was strange as there's not a route that flies at that altitude there," he said.
Thomas Winkelmann, chief executive Germanwings
says plane went into eight-minute descent before crashing.
Sixty-seven Germans are believed to have been on board, according to Germanwings.
Thomas Winkelmann, chief executive Germanwings
Speaking at a press conference said:
- Contact between the plane and French air traffic controllers broke off at 10:53 (9:53 GMT) at an altitude of approx 6,000ft. The plane then crashed.
- The last routine check and inspection of the aircraft took place on 23 March in Duesseldorf -the technicians were from Lufthansa.
- Last regular inspection was carried out in summer 2013.
- The captain has more than 10 years of experience with Lufthansa and Germanwings, and more than 6,000 hours of flying Airbus models.
- To protect family members and cabin crew the list of passengers will not be released immediately.
Another picture of the emergency services setting up in Seyne-les-Alpes.Copyright: ActuSecours
tweets: When a plane crashes, setting off from the same airport, on the same day as yourself, you can't help feel fortunate RIP to all
German media reports suggest a group of schoolchildren may have been on board the flight. The students were making their way back from a foreign exchange trip, according to the Bild newspaper.
Emergency vehicles gather in Seyne-les-Alpes.Copyright: ActuSecours
Contrary to previous reports, the crew did not send a distress signal, according to AFP.
Civil aviation authorities told the agency: "The crew did not send a Mayday. It was air traffic control that decided to declare the plane was in distress because there was no contact with the crew of the plane."
David Cabanes in Barcelona was meant to be on flight 4U 9525 but moved his plans forward by 24 hours.
He told the BBC: "There was a plan for me to go to Duesseldorf for a meeting on Tuesday... but we moved it to yesterday afternoon. So I took exactly the same flight, same time, same plane but yesterday, Monday."
He said he had "mixed emotions" and felt "shocked". "I remember the kind of people that were on the plane yesterday. A lot of children. Some executives but a lot of tourists."
Emergency services assembling before heading to the crash site.Copyright: ActuSecours
Relatives of passengers on board have been arriving at Barcelona airport, where the plane took off from.Copyright: Getty Images
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says "we are going through hard hours". She says she will travel to the crash site on Wednesday.Copyright: BBC
tweets: Flight #4U9525 initially climbed to 38,000 feet before it started to descend and lost signal at 6,800 feet.Copyright: Flightradar24
What exactly happened to flight 4U 9525 is still unclear, but BBC News takes a look at the facts so far: German Airbus crash: What we know
- Copyright: AP
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy expressed sadness at the "dramatic" news. He said he was cancelling his schedule for the day and would head to Madrid where to instruct the deputy prime minster to create a crisis task force.
The French interior ministry have tweeted emergency numbers put in place for those close to victims. From Germany call 0800 1133 5577. From Spain dial 902 400 012.
tweets: Lufthansa and Germanwings have established a telephone hotline. The toll-free 0800 11 33 55 77 number is available to all the families of the passengers involved for care and assistance.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to make a statement about the incident at 13:30 GMT.
Germanwings' managing director Oliver Wagner tells reporters the airline could not give any reasons for the plane crash but would do everything it could to ascertain what happened. "Our deep sympathy goes out to the relatives and friends of the victims," he said.
- Copyright: Getty Images
King Felipe VI of Spain, who is currently in Paris, has said his official state visit to France can not now be completed.
"Following conversations with President Holland and Mariano Rajoy we have taken the decision to postpone our official visit to France and try and carry it out in the future," he said.
He also offered his condolences to the families of the victims and thanked the French authorities for their response.
A hotel worker in Digne, the closest town to the suspected crash site, has told BBC Radio 5 live the plane was flying "very low". William says there are now several helicopters arriving at the site of the accident. He added that access to the crash site will be "very difficult" and that the area, normally covered in snow, is currently dry.
Germanwings now says there were 144 passengers and six crew aboard Flight 4U 9525.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron's thoughts are with the friends and family of those involved in the crash, his spokesman says. It was not yet known whether there were any UK nationals on board but the Foreign Office would be talking to counterparts in France.
Le Monde newspaper have tweeted that the incident is the worst airplane crash in terms of fatalities on French soil since 1981, when 180 people died in a plane accident near Ajaccio.
The Civil Protection Service in Catalonia says concerned relatives can call an information line on 0049 30 5000 3000.
Reports from Spain suggest 45 Spanish passengers were on board the flight. Barcelona airport has set up a room in Terminal 2 for family members, according to officials in Catalonia.
- Copyright: Getty Images
- Low-cost budget airline created in 2002 and wholly owned by Lufthansa
- Based in Cologne, it operates increasing numbers of the group's point to point short haul routes
- Popular with German tourists heading to Mediterranean cities and resorts
- Lufthansa Group announced in January 2015 that it planned to phase out the Germanwings brand and replace it with Eurowings
European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc tells reporters in Brussels that officials were working with the French, Spanish and German authorities.
French President Francois Hollande has spoken briefly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to express solidarity following the crash of the Germanwings plane. Meanwhile, Spain's King Felipe and his wife are in France on a scheduled visit and are meeting Mr Hollande.
Germanwings is due to hold a news conference at 14:00 GMT at Cologne-Bonn airport, French satellite channel BFMTV says.
- Copyright: AP
The arrivals board at Duesseldorf airport shows no flight status for 4U9525.
German air safety experts are on the way to the crash site, says Reuters, citing the transport ministry.
BBC Business reporter Nigel Cassidy:
Germanwings has an excellent safety record with no previously reported accidents. The average age of its Airbus fleet is just over nine-years-old though flight 4U9525 was being flown by a 24-year-old A320.
Reuters has more details about the ownership of plane. According to online database airfleets.net, the Airbus A320 had been with the parent Lufthansa group since it was manufactured in 1991.
Captain Benoit Zeisser of the Digne-le-Bains police tells French TV network iTele the cloud ceiling in the crash area was not low and there did not appear to be turbulence.
French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet is quoted by Associated Press saying debris from the crash has been located. The crash site in the Alps was at an altitude of 2,000m (6,560ft).
Daily Mirror chief reporter Andy Lines
tweets: Bodies of victims are being taken to an emergency morgue set up at a gymnasium in village of Seyne-Les-Alpes.
tweets: We do not yet know what has happened to flight 4U 9525. My deepest sympathy goes to the families and friends of our passengers and crew on 4U 9525. If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors.
A few more details about the crash location. France's DGAC aviation authority confirmed the A320 crashed near the town of Barcelonnette about 100 km (65 miles) north of Nice. The prime minister's office said the crash happened in Meolans-Revel, a remote commune in the foothills of the French Alps.
The BBC's Berlin correspondent Jenny Hill says there is a great deal of shock in Germany. "Germanwings is a well known company here."
Airbus says on its website that that an A320 family aircraft takes off or lands every 2.5 seconds of every day. It is used by many airlines including low-cost carriers. The planes are made in Toulouse, France, Hamburg, Germany, and Tianjin, China.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he had sent Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to the scene and a ministerial crisis cell to co-ordinate the incident had been set up.
According to sources quoted by AFP news agency. plane had issued a distress call at 10:47 (09:47 GMT).
tweets: Debris located near Barcelonnette
The plane had taken off from Barcelona airport at 0855 GMT, Spain's airport operator Aena said. A spokeswoman declined to give any more detail about the plane or its passengers.
The Germanwings website is currently not available.
tweets: "We are aware of the media reports. All efforts are now going towards assessing the situation. We will provide further information as soon as available."
Cologne-based Germanwings is a low-cost airline owned by giant carrier Lufthansa.
- Copyright: APTN
The French government has activated a ministerial crisis cell to help coordinate the aftermath of the crash, according to President Hollande
BBC News transport correspondent Richard Westcott reports the Planefinder.net website suggests the crashed aircraft was registered 24 years ago.
French President Francois Hollande has been responding to news of the crash. He says the area where the plane went down is very difficult to access.
Germanwings tweeted: "We have recently become aware of media reports speculating on an incident though we still do not have any own confirmed information. As soon as definite information is available, we shall inform the media immediately."
The crash is thought to involve a Barcelona to Dusseldorf flight.
The plane from German low-cost airline Germanwings, is reported to have been carrying 142 people, four cabin crew and two pilots.
Welcome to BBC coverage of reports an Airbus A320 has crashed in the French Alps near Digne, with 148 people on board.