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+++ Germanwings recovery operations: live updates +++

Investigators in Paris say they have successfully extracted recordings from the Germanwings cockpit voice recorder found on Tuesday. The plane crashed in the French Alps, killing 150. DW is updating with the latest.

This live ticker has now ended. As events continue to unfold rapidly, stay with Deutsche Welle for the latest updates.

19:45 - So, in summary: Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr announced various flights from Spain and Germany for the relatives and friends, to begin tomorrow. The company is offering those affected psychological and financial support. Repeated that one black box has been found, the other not yet, and that voices had been heard on on the one that was recovered yesterday. Spohr said it was incomprehensible to him and the company that the plane crashed, and that it was distressing that the plane was in small pieces. Aviation experts have said that small pieces tend to suggest plane crashed without a prior explosion.

19:40 - Spohr: we are confident to find the second black box. We are above water. I think we are confident to be able to reconstruct what happened.

19:39 - Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr says there was no distress signal from the plane received.

19:38 - Spohr: the aircraft got a clean maintenance bill when it was checked two days ago in Düsseldorf. Says it was in perfect technical shape.

19:35 - Spohr was asked by a journalist why the plane was delayed before it took off. Spohr said it was because of congestion at the airport. "No relation to the incident whatsoever."

19:35 - Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr: We know we can never make up the loss. This accident has caused terrible pain.

19:34 - Spohr says he's very glad the first flight recorder was recovered, and that an audio stream is readable. Hopes the second will be found soon, which "will provide a complete picture of the accident."

19:33 - There will be also a flight from Düsseldorf tomorrow to the crash area.

19:32 - Spohr says psychological support is being given, as well as immediate financial help, for those affected.

19:31 - Lufthansa and Germanwings are giving a joint press conference. CEO Carsten Spohr says there will be a special flight tomorrow from Barcelona to Marseilles for victims' families.

19:26 - The US State Department says three Americans were on board the Germanwings plane that crashed on Tuesday. It says authorities are in contact with family members:

18:07 - According to the German DPA news agency, Kazakh officials have said that three Kazakh citizens were among the victims, and the foreign ministry is trying to confirm the identity of the fourth.

17:58 - Officials in London say there were three British nationals on the downed plane. They are understood to be a 28-year-old male hospitality student, a 50-year-old father-of-two, and a baby boy, whose 37-year-old Spanish mother was also on the plane.

17:30 - "We have just succeeded in extracting usable data from the cockpit voice recorder" - that's from Remi Jouty, the head of France's air crash investigation agency BEA. He was speaking about the black box found on Tuesday shortly after the crash, that records the pilots' conversations.

17:22 - Investigators say it'll take weeks or months for the full results.

17:17 - Investigators speaking now in Paris: "usable data" extracted from the Germanwings black box found yesterday. Working now to interpret audio recordings.

17:09 - More breaking news: reports investigators have successfully extracted recordings from the voice recorder that was found yesterday.

17:05 - One crucial bit of information from Hollande: the casing of the second black box has been found but not the box itself.

17:05 - The press conference is now over.

17:04 - Rajoy: lastly I'd like to tell you all and also to the family members - there are three people here, the leaders of France, Germany and Spain - we are going to show solidarity, work and investigate together, as human beings above all.

17:02 - Rajoy thanks Hollande and volunteers. Says they have been generous and friendly and what corresponds to a great country like France.

17:01 - Rajoy: Many citizens from France but also German and Spanish will work to help the families and loved ones of the victims. We've seen psychologists, interpreters, fire brigades, military officers and many volunteers and I'd like to thank all of them deeply.

17:00 - Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy: We want to assist you with all the means at our disposal.

16:59 - Merkel ends her speech in French: "Merci beaucoup et bon courage."

16:59 - Merkel: I wish all of those in a professional capacity and all the volunteers, I wish them strength in these difficult hours. It is a good feeling that in such a difficult hour, we work closely together. Dear Francois, a big thank you on behalf of millions of Germans who appreciate this, and appreciate this lived example of German-French friendship.

16:56 - Merkel: I would like to tell all the friends and relatives if they want to come to this place, they will be welcome, everything is being done to understand the "inexplicable." Describes it as a catastrophe in a very difficult region.

16:55 - Merkel thanks Hollande and the others who welcomed herself and her delegation.

16:54 - Merkel speaking now.

16:53 - Hollande says the flight's second black box is still being sought.

16:53 - "Every light will be cast on the circumstances of this catastrophe" - Hollande.

16:52 - Hollande says France has engaged a great deal of resources to find out why the catastrophe happened.

16:50 - Hollande: I was filled with emotion when I saw all this (rescue) personnel together, welcoming the families. We can give them information, comfort and hospitality.

16:48 - Hollande says it was not possible to save anyone in the crash.

16:46 - Hollande has begun to speak: "I believe that we should think of the families of the victims and their loved ones and on behalf of France, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Rajoy I express heartfelt condolences, and France is shoulder to shoulder with you."

16:45 - Looks like Merkel, Hollande and Rajoy have arrived.

16:42 - Hollande and Merkel are yet to show at the press conference. Condolences are still coming in from other world leaders, this time from the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani:

16:23 - We're waiting on a press conference due to begin any minute in France between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

16:21 - The European Parliament has held a minute of silence for the victims. "We are deeply saddened," said the parliament's German-born president, Martin Schulz. "A whole city in my country is in shock," said Schulz, referring to the town Haltern am See, which lost 16 high school students and two teachers.

16:06 - There is an unconfirmed report that the flight's second black box has been found:

15:51 - There is still a bit of conflicting information about the nationalities of the victims. Spain said earlier there were 49 Spanish victims on board. The Germanwings CEO says there were 35, along with 72 Germans, and two Americans. Australia has already confirmed two Australians on board - nurse Carol Friday and her adult son Greig, an engineer. The Mexican foreign ministry says two Mexican women were among the plane's 150 victims. The women have dual nationality with Spain.

15:40 - More information is coming in about who exactly was on board the Germanwings flight. This sad news has just been tweeted by Thomas Erdbrink, the Tehran bureau chief for the New York Times:

15:36 - As we said a little earlier, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere says there's no evidence of foul play in the plane crash. He told reporters in Berlin "according to the latest information there is no hard evidence that the crash was intentionally brought about by third parties."

15:35 - Spain's government says it's identified 49 Spanish victims from yesterday's Germanwings crash, based on the flight list and information from families.

15:22 - Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said it was "inexplicable" how a plane in good condition, in the control of two experienced Lufthansa-trained pilots, could go down from cruising altitude.

15:21 - Employees of Lufthansa have held a moment of silence for yesterday's victims. CEO Carsten Spohr described it as "a very emotional moment, to stand there with so many colleagues in uniform."

14:56 - Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere says there is no evidence of foul play in the plane crash at this stage.

14:37 - DW correspondent Max Hofmann is at Seyne les Alpes. You can follow him on Twitter @maxhofmann. He says the people there are being extremely helpful - providing hundreds of rooms in their homes for the families of victims and making sure they feel welcome.

14:28 - Watching live pictures of a concerned-looking Merkel, Hollande and Rajoy speaking to and shaking hands with investigators at Seyne les Alpes.

14:26 - The first pictures of the plane's badly-damaged cockpit voice recorder have been released.

14:18 - The leaders are being briefed on exactly what is happening in the rescue mission and the harrowing task of retrieving bodies.

14:17 - We are seeing live television images of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in Seyne les Alpes - about 10 kilometers from the crash site.

14:00 - In a video message shared on Twitter by Germanwings and Lufthansa, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said the crash was something the company had worked hard to prevent over its 60 year history.

13:55 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due shortly to meet with French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy near the crash scene. Hannelore Kraft, the premier of North Rhine Westphalia, the German state home to many of the victims, is due there with them.

13:48 - DW's Max Hofmann in the French town of Seyne-Les-Alpes near the crash site says residents are doing all they can for victims' families.

12:42 - In a brief press conference, Germanwings executive Thomas Winkelmann said the airline was still working to confirm the nationalities of all on board. He said the victims included 72 Germans and 35 Spaniards. Germanwings had previously said 67 Germans were onboard, and the Spanish government earlier said 45 passengers had Spanish names.

Winkelmann said further victims came from Great Britain, the Netherlands, Colombia, Mexico, Japan, Denmark, Israel, Australia, Argentina, Iran and Venezuela.

The airline has organized special flights to the crash site in southern France for the victims' loved ones, to depart from Düsseldorf and Barcelona on Thursday, Winkelmann said.

12:35 - A press conference is beginning at Germanwings headquarters in the western German city of Cologne. Germanwings representative Thomas Winkelmann said as of midday, the airline has made contact with families of 123 victims and is still trying to contact relatives of 27 victims.

12:15 - Experts in Paris have been working to analyze the damaged "black box" cockpit voice recorder, which was recovered from the wreckage of the crashed Germanwings plane.

12:05 - German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters in Berlin: "There is no reliable evidence that the crash was caused intentionally by a third party," adding that of course investigators would pursue all possibilities. He cautioned against speculation out of respect for victims' loved ones.

11:38 - Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr has said the company wouldn't take part in speculation about what caused the plane to crash.

"To us, it is inexplicable how this could happen to a plane in such good order and condition, flown by an experienced pilot who was trained by Lufthansa," he told reporters at the airline's headquarters in Frankfurt.

11:30 - Leaders in the German town of Haltern am See, which lost 16 students and two young teachers in the crash, have held a moving press conference.

Deutschland Haltern am See Absturz Germanwings A320

NRW Schools and Education Minister Sylvia Löhrmann, Haltern Mayor Bodo Klimpel and Joseph-König school Principal Ulrich Wessel addressed the media

"In our school, it will never again be as it was before," Joseph-König Gymnasium Principal Ulrich Wessel said.

11:20- Governments of several nations have said their citizens were among the crash victims. They included 16 students and two teachers from a high school in the German town of Haltern, an Australian mother and her adult son, two opera singers and two babies. Germanwings on Tuesday said it believed 67 Germans were on the flight. Spain said 45 of the passengers had Spanish names.

Additionally, the governments of Kazakhstan, Japan, Colombia, the Netherlands, Denmark, Turkey and Israel said their nationals were on board. Mexico's government is working to confirm whether a Mexican citizen was on board. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Wednesday at least three Britons were killed, but that more may have been involved. "The level of information on the flight manifest doesn't allow us to rule out that possibility," he said.

11:00- Germanwings staff at their Cologne headquarters took part in a minute of silence at 10:53 a.m.

10:52 - Lufthansa and Germanwings staff around the world will hold a minute's silence at 10:53 CET (09:53 UTC) Wednesday. Germanwings says it marks 24 hours since the time contact was lost with Flight 9525. Among the 150 dead were six crew members: two pilots and four cabin crew.

10:00 - Preparations are being made to receive victims' families at the French town near the crash, reports DW's Max Hofmann from Seyne-Les-Alpes. Forensic teams are also arriving.

09:50 - Pupils of Joseph-König Gymnasium in the western German town of Haltern am See have gathered at the high school to mourn 16 students and two teachers who were aboard the crashed Germanwings flight. They had been visiting a Spanish school as part of an exchange program. A sign near the school entrance reads "Yesterday we were many. Today we are alone."

09:20- At least one flight has been cancelled Wednesday as several Germanwings pilots declined to fly, saying they were mourning victims of Tuesday's crash.

"Lufthansa flights are going ahead as planned. One Germanwings flight has been cancelled because pilots don't feel they are in a position to fly," a Lufthansa spokesperson told news agency AFP, declining to give the number of pilots who decided not to work.

A spokesman for the pilots' union Vereinigung Cockpit, Jörg Handwerg, insisted the pilots' decisions were not due to safety concerns.

"The pilots have friends and colleagues who have died," Handwerg said on German public television broadcaster ARD. "That is such a heavy emotional burden that it's better not to get into the cockpit."

08:45 - In a series of messages on Twitter, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said the airline would enable relatives to grieve at the crash site as soon as possible. He also said Germanwings and Lufthansa would do everything in their power to help victims' relatives in an "uncomplicated and timely manner."

08:21- DW journalist Diana Hodali reported quiet scenes at Cologne-Bonn airport Wednesday morning, but no flight cancellations from there so far.

08:10-At least some information would be able to be recovered from the damaged black box of Germanwings Flight 9525, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told RTL radio on Wednesday.

"The black box that was found is the CVR [Cockpit Voice Recorder]," a source close to the inquiry told news agency AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that the device was found damaged and taken to Paris for analysis.

Cazeneuve added that while officials have not ruled out any possible causes of the crash, terrorism was not considered likely.

Frankreich Seyne-les-Alpe Germanwings Absturzstelle Trümmer

The wreckage was spread over a large area

07:50 - Under overcast skies and chilly temperatures, helicopters took off as investigators resumed their efforts Wednesday morning to sort through the wreckage of the Airbus A320, which crashed Tuesday in a remote region of the French Alps.

Details of the Germanwings crash from Tuesday

Recovery crews had suspended their operations late Tuesday as nightfall made conditions too difficult to continue the search.

Rescue teams were due to focus on locating and recovering the second black box, which records flight data, as well as recovering remains and investigating what caused the crash.

The pilots did not sent out a distress call as the plane descended over a time of eight minutes, shortly after reaching cruising altitude on the flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf. It crashed shortly after 11 a.m. local time Tuesday in a rugged area of the southern French Alps near the town of Seyne-Les-Alpes.

"The site is a picture of horror. The grief of the families and friends is immeasurable," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Tuesday after being flown over the crash scene. "We must now stand together. We are united in our great grief."

Several Germanwings flights were cancelled on Tuesday as crews reported being unfit for work.

Leaders to pay respects on Wednesday

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to travel to the site Wednesday to pay her respects and bear witness to the recovery efforts, alongside Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and French President Francois Hollande.

Merkel will also be accompanied by Hannelore Kraft, the premier of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), of which the plane's destination Düsseldorf is the capital. The town of Haltern am See, which had 16 high school students and two teachers amongst the crash victims, is also in NRW.

The crash involving one of Germany's biggest airlines, which had a good safety record, has shocked Europe.

se/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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