Paris, March 24 (IANS) An Airbus A320 of a German budget airline with 150 people on board crashed on Tuesday in southern France while flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf. French President Francois Hollande said no survivors are expected.
Confirming on Tuesday that its flight 4U9525 met with an accident over the French Alps, Germanwings put the toll at 150. Earlier media reports said the plane carried 142 passengers and a crew of six.
The plane was flying from Barcelona in Spain to Duesseldorf in Germany when it crashed around 11 a.m. in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence in the southern French Alps.
There were 144 passengers and six crew members on board, Germanwings said in a joint statement with its parent company Lufthansa.
“We must confirm to our deepest regret that Germanwings Flight 4U9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf has suffered an accident over the French Alps,” the statement posted on their twitter accounts read.
Germanwings and Lufthansa have set up a free hotline with number 0800-11335577 for families of passengers involved for care and assistance.
“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,” the companies said.
French President Hollande said there might be no survivors from the ill-fated passenger jet.
In a brief statement, Hollande said: “The conditions of the accident, which are not yet clear, suggest there would be no survivors in this tragedy that happened in France.”
Hollande also expressed France’s solidarity with Germany, Spain and the family members of the victims of the crash.
Earlier on Tuesday, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement that Chancellor Angela Angela Merkel was deeply shocked at the plane crash, and had already made phone calls to French President Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
The chancellor has cancelled other appointments for the day and would keep informed on the latest development in the coming hours, Seibert said.
The German ambassador in Paris was on way to the crash site, according to the statement.
The country’s foreign ministry has set up a crisis team to deal with the issue and opened a crisis hotline. The transportation ministry said the Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation (BFU) has sent investigators to France.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed sympathy with the families of the passengers and said “our thoughts are with those fearing that their loved ones are among the victims”.
The identities of the passengers have not been disclosed and the cause of the accident remained unclear.
Media reported that the A320 jetliner flying flight 4U9525 was one of the oldest in Germanwings’ fleet and had served for over 24 years. It had flown to Barcelona from Duesseldorf earlier on Tuesday before it flew back and met with the accident.
According to a Xinhua report from Madrid, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that the plane crash was “dramatic and sad news with enormous human loss.”
Rajoy made this statement in Victoria in Spain’s Basque region during a brief press conference. Fortyfive of those feared killed are Spaniards.
Rajoy said he has cancelled his engagements for the day to return to Madrid.
Rajoy told reporters he could not give more information as all details were preliminary.
He said the government would do everything it could to support the families and confirmed that a crisis unit has been set up.
He added that Minister of Public Works Ana Pastor was on her way to France.
Meawnhile, Spanish King Felipe VI, who is on a state visit to France, announced after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace that he was curtailing his visit due to the plane crash.
According to King Felipe VI, there were no signs of survivors from the plane crash.