Debris from the crashed Germanwings Airbus A320 has been spotted more than 1,820 meters (6,000 feet) up in the French Alps, officials said Tuesday. The crew of the passenger airliner reportedly sent out a distress signal just 46 minutes after takeoff, around 10:47 a.m., according to the French civil aviation authority. The plane was flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, Germany, when it disappeared from radar screens Tuesday morning.
French transport minister Alain Vidalies told reporters the Germanwings A320 was cruising at an “abnormal” altitude when it lost contact with ground control, according to the Telegraph. Authorities confirmed there were no survivors. "The plane was flying lower than normal,” at about 2,072 meters (6,800 feet,) when it crashed, one witness told the French radio station Europe 1.
Germanwings A320 was carrying 150 passengers and crew when it went down Tuesday. Authorities believed around 45 of the passengers were Spanish. Most of the victims were thought to be German tourists.
After flight crew issued the distress call, the plane descended rapidly from its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet to about 5,000 feet, according to the New York Times. Photos and videos claiming to show the crash have surfaced online, however their authenticity has not been confirmed. Video posted by Mirror depicts the moment plane vanished from radar. The footage shows flight 4U 9525’s flight path as it traveled between Barcelona and Dusseldorf before disappearing around 9:39 a.m. local time.
French President François Hollande offered his condolences to family members of the victims of the crash. “We must feel grief because this is a tragedy that happened on our soil,” said Hollande in the wake of the crash. “I 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.”
A man who was said to have been waiting for the missing Germanwings flight reacts at the airport in Dusseldorf.
— BBC Mundo (@bbcmundo) March 24, 2015
Family members react to reports of the crash at Barcelona's El Prat airport.
— El País in English (@elpaisinenglish) March 24, 2015
The supposed crash site of the Germanwings A320 aircraft in a remote region of the French Alps.
— AirLive.net (@airlivenet) March 24, 2015
Image of the Arrivals board at Dusseldorf airport.
— WDR_live (@WDR_live) March 24, 2015
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve tweeted a picture of a crisis meeting between French leaders.
— Bernard Cazeneuve (@BCazeneuve) March 24, 2015
Flight path and approximate location of crash site of downed Germanwings flight.
Map of Germanwings crash in Southern France pic.twitter.com/5cPjeaOZcS
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) March 24, 2015