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Merkel visits high school of Germanwings crash victims

Chancellor Angela Merkel has paid tribute to the students and teachers killed in the Germanwings crash on a visit to their high school. Merkel spoke with friends and family of the victims during a private ceremony.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended a memorial service on Tuesday at a high school where students and teachers were among those on board the fatal Germanwings flight last spring.

Joseph-Koenig Gymnasium was

shaken by the tragedy

in March, after 16 students and two teachers were among those killed when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed Flight 9525 into the French Alps.

On Tuesday morning, Merkel and North Rhine-Westphalia's Deputy State Premier Sylvia Löhrmann paid a visit to the town of Haltern am See, where the school is located, meeting with the victims' friends and families in a private ceremony. Merkel reportedly laid flowers at the scene and delivered a short address to the students.

Haltern was an example of "how in such a terribly sad situation one can still show a sense of community," the chancellor said, according to German news agency epd.

The school's principal, Ulrich Wessel, is organizing a school trip to the site of the crash in the Alps next year.

"I think it is helpful for students to see the crash site," Wessel told the dpa news agency.

He added that students would spend the night near the French village where thousands of unidentified body parts have been buried.

blc/cmk (dpa, epd)

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