Germanwings Airbus A320 French Alps crash: Two Spanish babies and class of 16 from single German school among passengers

All 150 on board are feared dead

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The Independent Online

A class of German school pupils and two Spanish babies were among the passengers on board the doomed German jetliner which crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday.

As German leader Angela Merkel prepared to fly to the disaster scene to show solidarity with the families of the victims, it emerged that a large number of children from a grammar school returning from an exchange programme in Spain were among the German dead.

In a statement the chancellor said her government would "do everything possible" to comfort the families of the victims. Reports from Spain suggested around 45 of the other passengers were Spanish, including two babies. Spanish King Felipe said he was cancelling the rest of his state visit to France following the crash.

A number of Turkish people are also reported to have died in the disaster.

The schoolchildren on the plane were pupils at the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium in Haltern-am-See, not far from Dusseldorf.  The school conducts all lessons in English and German.

By Tuesday afternoon friends and relatives of the dead had taken to social media sites to express their sadness at their deaths.  According to one posting there were 16 children and two teachers among the victims.

It is understood that the pupils were in their teens and all Spanish language students at the school. German newspaper BILD reported on its website that at least two passengers on the plane were younger children not from the school, but their ages were not given.

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Germanwings, the budget airlines arm of German national carrier Lufthansa, set up an emergency hotline for relatives to telephone and deployed counsellors at Dusseldorf Airport to comfort those who were waiting for loved ones to arrive when news of the disaster broke.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the passengers and crew members," said Lufthansa in a statement as the German nation went into mourning for the dead.

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A helicopter of the French National Gendarmerie is seen in Seyne, south-eastern France, near the site where a Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed in the French Alps

The Duesseldorf-Barcelona route is one of the most popular offered by Germanwings, which has a reputation in Germany for reliability and economy backed up by the resources of the Lufthansa parent company. The airline reported that there was a sudden storm which the aircraft flew into shortly before it crashed.

The Germanwings A320 D-AIPX which crashed is one of the oldest A320 with serial number 0147 and was delivered in November 1990, according to aviation experts.

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French emergency services workers (back) and members of the French gendarmerie gather in Seyne, south-eastern France, near the site where a Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed in the French Alps

It also emerged that another German plane suffered a dramatic height loss in November last year. Spiegel magazine reported that a malfunctioning computer caused a Lufthansa-Airbus with 109 passengers on board on a flight from  Bilbao to Munich suddenly began a rapid descent at a rate of 1000 metres per minute.

According to the magazine the computer was fed with false data which affected its sensors. Only when the on-board computers were disabled was the crew able to regain control of the aircraft and avert disaster.

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