A Germanwings Airbus A320 plane has crashed in the French Alps between Carcelonnette and Digne-les-Bains, French police have said.
The plane from the budget airline, which is a subsidiary of Lufthansa, was en route between Barcelona in Spain and Dusseldorf in Germany when the pilot sent out an emergency “Mayday” SOS message at 10:45 local time (09:45 GMT). The passenger jet then disappeared from radar screens.
The plane was believed to have been carrying 142 passengers, two pilots, and four cabin crew when it crashed.
German media reports that sixteen schoolchildren and two teachers were on the aircraft, but this has not been confirmed by the airline.
A search and rescue mission is underway, but French President Francois Hollande said the teams did not expect to find any survivors.
Debris is reported to have been found near to Digne-les-Bains in the Alps at an altitude of around 2000m, according to the French Interior Ministry.
No survivors have yet been found.
The “black box” flight recorder has been recovered, but the cause of the crash is currently unknown. The jet descended rapidly but did not send a distress signal before the crash.
In a statement, Germanwings said:
“We have recently become aware of media reports speculating on an incident though we still do not have any own confirmed information.”
Lufthansa chief executive, Carsten Spohr, said:
“We do not yet know what has happened to flight 4U 9525. My deepest sympathy goes to the families and friends of our passengers and crew on 4U 9525. If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors”
The Germanwings A320 D-AIPX with serial number 0147 was delivered to Lufthansa in Nov 1990 and was one of the older A320s still in service, according to FlightRadar24.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 24, 2015