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+++ Live: Germanwings crash in Alps +++

A Germanwings airliner carrying 144 passengers and six crew has crashed in the French Alps. France's transport minister says there are no survivors. DW reports on events as they happen.

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

All times in local Central European Time (GMT&UTC +1)

22:05 - German government has still no precise information about the number of German citizens died in the plane crash. According to Germanwings there were 150 passengers on board.

Officials believe 67 German nationals were among the passengers. "It will take time to identify all victims because of the area's remoteness," Foreign Office in Berlin said.

21:36 - "The biggest body pieces we have seen are no bigger than this small carry case," one of the police officers said, who had returned from the crash site by helicopter after the search is called off this evening.

21:49 - Two Australian victims were on board the Germanwings Airbus A-320, Julie Bishop has said.The Foreign Affairs minister told reporters on Wednesday morning the two Australians were a woman and her adult son from Victoria.

21:40 - A local farmer, Jean-Christophe, who helped guide rescuers to the crash site, said there was "really nothing left" of the plane. "I saw pieces of aircraft and smoke. The bits of airplane were not very big," he said.

21:31 - Germanwings has canceled a number of flights on Tuesday, but also some scheduled for Wednesday, as several crews refused to fly with Airbus aircrafts. The flights from Düsseldorf, Cologne, Berlin and Stuttgart airport are being affected, Lufthansa confirmed.

"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," Lufthansa spokeman said.

21:19 - A woman who was too pregnant to trravel left her husband to travel alone this morning. Spanish media have named one of the 150 victims as Josep Sabat Casellas.

21:08 - Spain's government decreed three days of national mourning and numerous official events were postponed. The lower house of parliament held a minute's silence and cancelled sessions scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

20:52 - The search has been stopped for this evening and it will be resumed on Wednesday morning, French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henri Brandet said. However, the police and military will stay there overnight to secure the crash site.

20:44 - French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said 300 soldiers and 350 firefighters have been deployed to assist local search and rescue at the site of a Germanwings airplane crash

20:35 - Fifteen ministers are on hand to offer counselling, protected from curious glances in a VIP lounge. The airport has set up a crisis team to deal with the aftermath of the fatal crash, and medical services are also at the scene.

20:27 - Spanish media report that a second singer, German contralto Maria Radner along with her husband and baby, were among the 150 passengers feared dead.

20:16 - A lot of people from Haltern am See have gathered tonight in front of the local church. The priest read out the names of the 16 teenager who died in the plane crash. Families and friends are invited to stay all night and try to find some comfort.

20:01 - The European Parliament will begin its session on Wednesday with a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the plane crash in southern France. "This tragedy and the loss of life make us all deeply affected," Parliament President Martin Schulz said. On behalf of the EU Parliament, Schulz addressed his condolences to the relatives and friends of the victims who died in the plane crash.

19:45 - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier described what he saw after arriving at the crash site on Tuesday evening as "a picture of horror. "The loss of the families and loved ones is immeasurable. We have to be united in this great grief," Steinmeier said.

19:30 - Emergency counselor Justus Münster spoke to DW-TV moments ago.

19:22 - US President Barack Obama offers condolences to Germany and Spain after the Germanwings plane crash and US assistance.

19:18 - Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann could not provide any information about the nationalities of passengers who were on board of the flight from Barcelona.

19:15 - Thomas Winkelmann said the plane went into a steep eight-minute descent before hitting the ground. He told reporters that an initial count indicated there were 67 German citizens on board.

19:11- Together with German Foreign Office, Germanwings is trying to get more information about the victims at the moment, who didn't provide any contact details, Winkelman said. Another press conference is announced for tomorrow.

19:06 - The Deutsche Oper am Rhein said bass baritone Oleg Bryjak was on his way back from Barcelona. "We have lost a great performer and a great person in Oleg Bryjak. We are stunned," director Christoph Meyer said.

19:01 - Students and teachers at a small-town German high school in Haltern am See broke down in tears once they realized that 16 classmates and two teachers were on the plane that crashed in South France.

The students were sent home but many returned in the afternoon with candles in their hands and tears in their eyes to mourn with each other at the school.

18:50 - Lufthansa vice president unable to answer all journalist questions. Remarks quietly to her colleague in German: "I don't know what I am supposed to say."

18:48 - Lufthansa says it is working on the assumption the crash was an accident.

18:45 - Lufthansa vice president Heike Birlenbach: At present, there is a recovery team at the scene. And we do hope that we will have some further information later on this evening. We will do our utmost to also support relatives, friends of passengers on board. We are looking into options to bring them to the scene, which is not yet confirmed, so we will have to see if that makes sense. Main focus is to get information to friends, families and support them.

18:45 - Lufthansa giving a press conference in Barcelona.

18:40 - Israeli news outlet Ynet is reporting that an Israeli citizen "likely" to be among those killed in the Germanwings crash.

18:20 - News of the crash sent shares in Lufthansa sinking more than four percent, but they recovered to end the day down 1.56 percent at 13,57 euros, still the worst performer on the Frankfurt stock market.

18:07 - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt have arrived in Marseille, late afternoon local time. They will be transfered to the scene of the accident with a helicopter.

17:59 - The area around the crash site is still closed to ensure emergency services to access all spots including the road more easily, French police said.

17:43 - The French Interior Minister says black box from the Germanwings flight 4U9525 has been found.

"A black box that we found a few hours after the crash will immediately be examined to help the investigation move forward quickly," Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters.

17:39 - Germanwings said that none of its aircrafts has ever been involved in a crash prior to Tuesday's loss of an Airbus A320 in the French Alps. "We've never had a total loss of aircraft in the company's history until now," a company spokeswoman said.

17:30 - The crash of a Germanwings Airbus in a remote area of the French Alps does not appear to have been caused by a terror attack, the White House said.

"There is no indication of a nexus to terrorism at this time," White House National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.

17:22 - World champions Germany will wear black armbands and there will be a minute's silence before Wednesday's friendly against Australia to honour the victims of the French Alps air crash.

17:15 - The mayor of German town of Haltern am See, Bodo Kimpel, has confirmed that 16 pupils and two teachers from the town's Joseph King High School were on board the plane that crashed. The names of the tenth graders and their teachers were on the boarding list. The director of the Spanish school who was in charge of a pupil exchange program also confirmed the group boarded the plane.

Karte Absturz Germanwings Flug 4U9525 Englisch

The plane was bound for Düsseldorf from Barcelona. The crash site is remote and mountainous, French authorities report it is difficult to access.

"Everyone is in a state of shock. It is the worst thing you can imagine," Klimpel said.

17:02 - "The aircraft is totally destroyed," French lawmaker Christophe Castaner wrote on Twitter. "Horrible images in the mountains. Nothing but the wreckage and bodies", Castaner added. He had flown over the crash site together with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

16:52 - The United States is reviewing whether any US citizens were aboard the Airbus operated by Lufthansa's Germanwings budget airline, the US State Department said in a statement.

16:47 - German security officials said there is no initial evidence of terrorism in the crash of a Germanwings plane in southern France.

16:35 - Germanwings said it was unclear what caused its Airbus A320 aircraft to crash but that there had been no problems with the plane before takeoff. "There were no anomalies on the plane," the Lufthansa unit's Managing Director Thomas Winkelmann said.

16:29 - The campground owner near the crash site, Pierre Polizzi, told AP he heard strange noises from the plane moments before the crash.

"I heard a series of loud noises in the air. The noise I heard was eight seconds long — as if the plane was going more slowly than a military plane speed. There was another long noise after about 30 seconds," Polizzi said. The plane crashed about four miles from his campground.

16:25 - Sixteen German teenagers on a school exchange trip were feared to be among the 150 dead in the crash of a passenger jet in the French Alps on Tuesday, officials said. The pupils and teachers left for Barcelona airport on Tuesday morning, but it's still not confirmed if boarded the Germanwings flight.

16:19 - French President Francois Hollande said there are likely no French passengers or crew aboard the Germanwings flight that crashed over the Alps. Speaking alongside visiting Spanish King Felipe VI, Hollande said that the victims are likely of German, Spanish and Turkish nationalities.

16:11 - US President Barack Obama was briefed on a plane crash in the French Alps that killed 150 people on Tuesday morning , the White House said.

"US officials have been in touch with French, German, and Spanish authorities and have offered assistance," National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said.

16:06 - There is no hope of finding any survivors, French police said. "There is no need for any rescue operations, everyone is dead," said a police officer in the town of Le Vernet, near the crash site.

16:01 - German air accident investigators are on their way to the crash site, the Ministry of Transport said. The team of experts from Germany's Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents hope to establish the cause of the crash of the Germanwings Airbus A320.

15:57 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel cancels all appointments to follow updates on the crash of a Germanwings flight in the French Alps.

15:54 - Among the 144 passengers on the plane travelling from Barcelona to Düsseldorf were two babies.

15:49 - French Transport Minister Alain Vidalies said there are no survivors in the Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps. "There was a distress call recorded at 10:47 am. This signal showed that the aircraft was at 5,000 feet, which is an abnormal situation," Vidalies told reporters..

Joseph König High School in Haltern am See

Joseph König High School in Haltern am See

15:42 - French aviation authority said Germanwings jet did not issue distress call, controllers declared distress phase.

15:37 - No one survived the plane crash in southern France and it is likely to take days to recover the bodies of those on board due to difficult terrain, French police at the crash site said.

"It is going to take days to recover the victims, then the debris," senior police officer Jean-Paul Bloy added..

15:31 - Germanwings says jet underwent thorough check in summer 2013

15:22 - Pilot had 'more than 10 years' experience, 6,000 flight hours, Germanwings said.

15:17 - Germanwings has set up a hotline for relatives of passengers: 01806 320320.

15:11 - The German government said it was sending air safety experts and its transport minister to the site of a plane crash in France.


Angela Merkel

"In these difficult hours our thoughts are with all those who must fear their relatives are among the passengers or crew members," Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

15:09 - 67 Germans were among crash victims, Germanwings said. But that number could change.

15:05 - "The aircraft's contact with French radar, French air traffic controllers ended at 10.53 am at an altitude of about 6,000 feet. The plane then crashed," Lufthansa unit Germanwings' Managing Director Thomas Winkelmann told journalists at a news conference.

15:03- Germanwings says team from Lufthansa, Airbus and Germanwings is on the way to the crash site to find out why planed crashed as qucikly as possible.

14:57 - "My thoughts are with the family members and friends of the many victims. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to them. May they find strength and solace in this tough moment," German President Joachim Gauck said in Peru.

14:52 - Relatives of passengers of the German airliner that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday gathered at Barcelona airport, desperate for news of their loved ones.

14:49 - Federal Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier were traveling to the crash region today.

14:45 - Chancellor Merkel said she had in recent hours held telephone conversations with French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who had agreed to do everything possible to establish the cause of the crash.

14:50 - Full summary of Angela Merkel's speech:

Chancellor Merkel said the crash of Germanwings' Flight 4u9525 was a shock that had plummeted Germany, France and Spain into "deep grief."

Germanwings Airbus A320 Flugzeugabsturz Angehörige in Düsseldorf

DW's reporter on the scene says grief counselors have been dispatched to Düsseldorf's airport.

"It is a moment of great sorrow," she said.

Merkel said she had in recent hours held telephone conversations with French

President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who had agreed to do everything possible to establish the cause of the crash.

She expressed compassion for all those who had lost their lives and said all would be done to provide help.

She said Federal Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier were traveling to the crash region today.

Merkel said she would personally visit the region tomorrow (Wednesday) to assess the situation, accompanied by Hannelore Kraft, the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia. (The flight's destination Düsseldorf is its regional capital.)

Dobrindt had earlier announced the dispatch of German air accident investigators to southern France and said he was consulting with his French aviation colleague

14:42 - Merkel: "I will travel there tomorrow to get my own impression and
to speak with local officials."

14:41 - Merkel says she will travel to site of the crash tomorrow.

14:40 - Merkel says she agreed with France and Spain to help each other to find the causes of the crash.

14:40 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke moments ago. She says Germany, Spain and France deeply mourn the crash victims.

14:30 - Aviation expert Tim van Beveren spoke to DW moments ago.

14:28 - The German foreign ministry has established a hotline for relatives of passengers: +49 30 5000 3000

14:13 - Our reporter on the scene says grief counselors are on hand at the Düsseldorf airport.

14:07 - Germanwings - the carrier in today's deadly crash - has established a hotline for relatives of passengers. 0800 11 33 55 77

14:03 - The probable death toll has risen to 150 people, according to French President Francois Hollande. The manifest includes 144 passengers and six crew members, he says the airline has confirmed.

14:01 - French President Francois Hollande said that it's uncertain whether any French nationals were aboard. He said the nationalities are thought to include Germans, Spaniards and "probably" Turks.

13:48 - Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr is expected to deliver live televised remarks at 14:00 from Frankfurt Airport.

13:46 - AP: French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet says debris from the crash has been located at 2,000 meters altitude in the Alps. Brandet told BFM television that he expected "an extremely long and extremely difficult" search and rescue operation because of the area's remoteness. Eric Ciotti, the head of the regional council, said search-and-rescue teams were headed to the crash site at Meolans-Revels.

13:34 - Angela Merkel's spokesman has said that the German chancellor has cleared her schedule in response. Merkel will "keep up to speed with developments over the coming hours," Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin.

13:31 - French accident investigators have described the crash site as in Meolans-Revel, a remote and sparsely inhabited commune in the foothills of the French Alps.

13:25 - More market reaction... Lufthansa's share price dropped 4.61 percent to 13.15 euros in Frankfurt following news of the crash, the worst performer on the German stock market. Airbus shares sank 2.08 percent to 58.75 euros, the heaviest drop in Paris.

13:17 - More information on the aircraft... it was a 24-year-old Airbus A320. The twin-engined jet aircraft had been in service with the Lufthansa parent group since 1991. These aircraft can seat a maximum of 180 passengers plus crew.

13:10 - Germanwings is due to hold a press conference at Cologne Bonn Airport at 15:00 local time.

13:05 - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier takes to Twitter, saying that "our thoughts are with those people who must fear that their loved ones might be among the victims."

12:57 - France's leading air traffic controller union SNCTA called off a strike planned to begin tomorrow following news of the deadly crash. "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 union's spokesman Roger Rousseau told AFP.

12:52 - French transport minister says there are "no survivors" in the A320 crash. "The debris of a passenger plane has been found in the region of Barcelonette," said French interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet. He said "major rescue efforts" had been mobilized.

12:46 - French President Francois Hollande said there was likely to be a significant number of Germans on the flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf.

12:40 - Lufthansa - Germanwings' parent company - has expressed its sympathy.

12:32 - German Air Traffic Control (DFS) spokesman Axel Raab told DW that the crash was logged at 10:37 local time. "It is believed that 154 people were on board, six of them crew," he said.

12:24 - Markets react as shares in Airbus, the European manufacturer, slid on news of the accident, down 1.77 percent to 58.94 euros at midday local time after briefly sliding two percent.

12:20 - French President Francois Hollande said it was likely all passengers and crew on the Airbus A320 had perished in the crash. "There are not thought to be any survivors," the president said. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, said debris from the plane had already been found, and is en route to the scene.

12:13 - French civil aviation authories say a distess call was received at 1047 local time. The plane had been descending at 5,000 feet near the village of Bercelonnette about 100 km (65 miles) north of the French city Nice.

12:09 - French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has briefed the press on the crash. "Of course, we do not know the reasons for this crash, we obviously fear that the 142 to 150 passengers and people on board might have died due to the conditions of this crash," Valls told reporters in Paris, as quoted by Reuters French.

12:05 - Germanwings Flight A320 was en route to Düsseldorf from Barcelona when it went down in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence close to the Italian border. The Airbus A320 reportedly lost contact with air traffic controllers in the mountainous region. Germanwings is an affiliate of German flagship airline Lufthansa.

jil/jar/msh (Reuters, AFP)

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