PARIS, France – A German budget airliner crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday, March 24, with all 150 people on board declared dead, in one of the worst air crashes in France in 40 years.
Here is a timeline of developments:
– An Airbus A320 of Lufthansa’s low cost company Germanwings, operating Flight 4U 9525, takes off towards 09:35 am local time (0835 GMT) from Barcelona in Spain for Düsseldorf in Germany, where it is expected to land at 11:57 am.
– As it flies over southeastern France the French civil aviation authority DGAC declares that the plane is “in distress” at 10:47 am local time. The aircraft does not send out a Mayday signal, and the DGAC does not receive any radar signals from the plane or have any contact with the flight crew.
– After plunging for eight minutes, according to Germanwings, the plane crashes at 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) altitude in a difficult mountainous terrain.
– France’s interior ministry announces the crash in the Alpine region of Barcelonnette. The ministry says that 148 people were on board.
– A major rescue operation is mounted, but very quickly French President Francois Hollande says: “There are not thought to be any survivors”.
– Junior transport minister Alain Vidalies says there are no survivors and that the plane “crashed in the Estrop range”.
“It’s an area that is snowbound, inaccessible to (ground) vehicles, but which could be overflown by helicopters,” he says.
– Revising the toll upwards, Germanwings says that the aircraft was carrying 150 people.
– Spanish King Felipe VI cuts short his first state visit to France just moments after the visit officially began.
– The area where the crash took place is sealed off to help the probe.
– French Prime Minister Manuel Valls says that the authorities “can’t rule out any theory” on the cause of the disaster.
– Germanwings says its jet underwent a thorough check in the summer of 2013. It says that 67 Germans were on board, of which 16 schoolchildren returning from an exchange holiday. Government spokesman Soraya Saenz de Santamaria says that 45 of the victims had Spanish surnames.
– In the late afternoon, France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says a black box has been found.
– Hollande says he will meet his German and Spanish counterparts at the crash site on Wednesday.
– Lufthansa says it is working on the assumption that the crash was “an accident”.
– Spain’s government decrees three days of national mourning and numerous official events are postponed.
– US President Barack Obama offers the United States’ condolences.
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