No distress call by Germanwings plane that crashed in Alps

A passenger jet traveling from Spain to Germany crashed in the French Alps this morning, and all 150 people on board are presumed dead. The steep and rocky terrain poses a major challenge for search crews, but one black box recorder has been recovered and may help determine the crash’s cause. Paul Davies of Independent Television News reports.

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    Search teams and investigators have begun collecting the shattered bits of a German airliner that smashed into the French Alps today. The plane went into an eight-minute descent before it was lost near a popular ski resort 700 miles southeast from Paris.

    There was no distress call, but officials said there's no indication of terrorism.

    Paul Davies of Independent Television News, reports.


    Their journey should have taken them high over these mountains. Instead, for reasons that have yet to be explained, Flight4U9525 dropped down onto these slopes, killing all those on board.

    These are first pictures of wreckage scattered across the mountainside. There is very little that is recognizable, thousands of fragments from a plane that was carrying businesspeople, holiday-makers and a party of schoolchildren returning to Germany from an exchange trip. An emergency worker scrambles down the slope, the size of the task facing the recovery teams summed up in these images.

    The crash site, close to a ski resort, is 2,000 meters above sea level and can be reached only by helicopter. Recovery teams are on standby, but it's likely to take days to locate all the bodies. The flight data recorder has already been found. This is the Airbus A-320 operated by the Germanwings budget airline that left Barcelona this morning; 144 passengers and six crew were on board, most of them German and Spanish nationals.

    At Dusseldorf Airport, they had waited in vain for the arrival of Flight 4U9525, people who had been expecting to greet family and friends comforted by airline staff. Already, it was clear there was no hope of survivors.

    Germany's Chancellor Merkel talked of shocking news coming in from France. But nowhere more will that shock have been felt more than in this German school in the town of Haltern am See. Sixteen students and two teachers from the school's Spanish class had been on an exchange trip to Barcelona. All are lost.

    The local mayor says it's the darkest day in the town's history. The pain is being shared across Europe. Here, relatives of some of the 45 missing Spanish nationals comfort each other. They're being flown to France to be closer to the crash scene, while the recovery team tries to bring their loved ones down from the mountain.


    By this evening, the U.S. State Department was still trying to determine if any Americans were on the plane. We will get an expert's take on the job facing the crash investigators after the news summary.

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