A passenger jet traveling from Barcelona to Duesseldorf crashed in a remote area of the French Alps on Tuesday, authorities said.
French President Francois Hollande issued a grim statement that all are feared dead. 'The conditions of the accident, which have not yet been clarified, lead us to believe there are no survivors."
Germanwings, a low-budget carrier operated by Lufthansa, said it did not yet have information on what caused the crash. Flight 4U5925 left Barcelona at 9:55 a.m. sent out a distress signal at 10:45 a.m. Weather was reported to be good in the area, with no indications of turbulence.
The plane was at its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet before plummeting rapidly to about 6,500 feet when it crashed.
French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said that because the area is difficult to access, the search and rescue operation would be "extremely long and extremely difficult." He did confirm that helicopters have spotted wreckage in the mountains.
Airbus said the A320 aircraft was delivered to Lufthansa in 1991 and had accumulated about 58,300 flight hours.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said, "If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors."