Credit Rolf Vennenbernd/European Pressphoto Agency
PARIS â A German plane carrying at least 142 passengers and six crew members from Barcelona to DÃ¼sseldorf crashed Tuesday in southern France, the French civil aviation authority confirmed.
The wreckage of the aircraft, an Airbus A320 operated by Germanwings, a budget subsidiary of Lufthansa, was located by a French military helicopter near the town of Prads-Haute-BlÃ©one, according to Eric HÃ©raud, a spokesman in Paris for the aviation authority, the Direction GÃ©nÃ©rale de lâAviation Civile.
The pilots declared an emergency at 10:47 a.m. local time and descended rapidly to around 5,000 feet, from a cruising altitude of 38,000 feet, while flying over the town of Barcelonnette in the Alpes de Haute Provence region, Mr. HÃ©raud said.
President FranÃ§ois Hollande of France said many of the victims were German. âThe conditions of the accident, which have not yet been clarified, suggest that there might not be any survivors,â he said.
Mr. Hollande said he would be in contact with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and King Felipe VI of Spain, who is visiting France on Tuesday. He said that all information would be shared with the German and Spanish authorities.
âWe must feel grief because this is a tragedy that happened on our soil,â Mr. Hollande said. âI want to make sure that there have been no other consequences as the accident happened in a very difficult area to access, and I do not know yet if there were houses nearby. We will know in the next few hours. In the meantime, we must show support.â