French Alps plane crash: Germanwings crew 'did not send distress signal'

Officials initially thought the crew on the Airbus A320 issued a mayday signal 46 minutes after take-off

The pilot of a Germanwings flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf did not send out a distress signal in the minutes before crashing into a 9,000ft mountain in the French Alps, officials have said.

All 144 passengers and six crew aboard the German Airbus A320 are believed to have died in the crash about 100 miles north of Nice.

Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, French aviation officials denied earlier reports that the stricken aircraft had sent out a "mayday" signal.

They said that the signal previously reported to have come from the cockpit at 10.47am was in fact issued by French air traffic control when the plane disappeared from radar screens.

This suggests that, whatever happened to the plane, events moved too quickly for the crew to warn controllers on the ground that they were in difficulty.

Flight 4U 9525 vanished from radar screens 46 minutes after take-off from Barcelona. French officials said that debris had been found on the 2,961m-high Estrop massif near the small  town of Barcelonnette in the Alpes-de-Hautes-Provence.

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The area where Airbus A320 has crashed in the French Alps

French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that they feared that all those on board had died. “Our first thought is for the victims of this catastrophe,” Mr Valls said.

This was the first crash by a civil airliner in France since the Concorde crash near Paris in 2000, most of whose victims were German tourists.

Read more: Live updates on French Airbus A320 crash
'A tragedy on our soil': President Hollande issues statement

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