A German airliner crashed near a ski resort in the French Alps on Tuesday, killing all 150 people on board, in the worst plane disaster in mainland France in four decades. France’s junior transport minister said there were no “survivors” from the crash of of the Germanwings Airbus A320, a low cost subsidiary of Lufthansa, in a remote part of the Alps that is extremely difficult to access. Civil aviation authorities said they lost contact with the plane which was carrying 144 passengers and six crew, and declared that it was in distress at 10:30 am (09:30 GMT). Spanish King Felipe VI cut short his state visit to France on news of the tragedy, with a number of Spanish nationals believed to be among the dead along with Germans and possibly Turks. French President François Hollande said the plane crashed in an area very difficult to access and rescuers would not be able to reach the site for several hours. “I want to express all our solidarity to the families affected by this tragedy,” Hollande said.
The plane was travelling from the Spanish coastal city of Barcelona to the German city of Dusseldorf when it went down in the ski resort area of Barcelonnette. The plane belonged to Germanwings, a low cost affiliate of German airline Lufthansa based in Cologne which until now has no record of fatal accidents. Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr said on twitter the airline had no immediate details on the crash, describing it as a “dark day.” 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.” France’s leading air traffic controller SNCTA has called off a strike planned for Wednesday to Friday. “We are suspending our planned strike as a result of the emotions created in the control rooms by the crash, particularly in Aix-en-Provence,” the unions spokesman Roger Rousseau told AFP.