Germanwings plane ‘pulverized’ in French Alps crash

Germanwings plane ‘pulverized’ in French Alps crash

150 passengers onboard presumed dead

The Philippine government confirmed that none of its citizens were among the passengers of the ill-fated Germanwings plane carrying 150 people that crashed on Tuesday, March 24 in a remote area in France.

“As of now, no Filipino is reported to be on board the plane according to our Embassy in Paris,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Charles Jose said.

The Foreign Affairs Department made the confirmation after French President Francois Hollande announced that there might be no survivors among the 144 passengers and 6 crew of the Germanwings Flight 4U 9524 from more than a dozen countries.

Hollande said it was the deadliest crash in France in decades.

Majority of the passengers were Germans including two babies, 16 teenage students and two female teachers. The group was on their way back from a weeklong exchange trip in Barcelona.

Authorities also verified reports that opera singer Oleg Bryjak, 54, is among the dead.

Germanwings’ Chief Executive Thomas Winkelmann said at least 72 Germans were included in the list of passengers.

Spain also mourns the loss of at least 49 of its citizens, Junior Security Minister Francisco Martinez said. Winkelmann, however, said the airline’s latest estimate was that 35 of its passengers were Spaniards.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond reported that at least three British nationals died in the crash.

Germanwings also confirmed that two Americans, once Belgian, one Dutch and one Dane were on board.

Three Kazakhstanis, two Iranians, two Japanese, two Argentines, two Venezuelans, two Australians, one Paraguayan, one Colombian, and one Israeli were also on the plane when the incident happened.

The figures, however, do not match with the reports of the different nations as other passengers had dual nationality, Germanwings said.

Germanwings is a budget subsidiary of airline giant Lufthansa.

Black box and pulverized debris

Though authorities found the black box and pulverized pieces of debris across Alpine mountainside, the crashremains a mystery.

According to the clues found in the black box recordings, the German jetliner took an unexplained eight-minute dive midway through a flight from Spain to Germany.

The plane was less than an hour from landing in Duesseldorf when it went into a rapid descent.

There was no distress call from the pilots when the plane lost radio contact with their control center, France’s aviation authority said.

“The site is a picture of horror. The grief of the families and frineds is immeasurable,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

“We must now stand together. We are united in our great grief,” he added.

Even the investigators had a hard time going to the crash site in the southern French Alps. The helicopter that immediately went to the location announced that they saw no sign of life in the area.

“Everything is pulverized. The largest pieces of debris are the size of a small car. No one can access the site from the ground,” Alpes-de-Haute-Provene President of the General Council Gilblert Sauvan said.

“This is pretty much the worst thing you can imagine,” Haltern Mayor Bodo Kimpel remarked after expressing grief for the death of 16 students and two teachers.

No terrorism angle

Germanwings and the White House insisted that this is not a case of terrorism. German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged reporters to not elaborate on the angle.

“We still don’t know much beyond the bare information on the flight, and there should be no speculation on the cause of the crash,” Merkel said.

“All of that will be investigated thoroughly,” she added.

Lufthansa Vice President Heike Birlenbach told reporters that for now, “We say it is an accident.”

The White House intercepted the investigation saying they were in contact with their French, Spanish and German counterparts as the probe develops.

“There is no indication of a nexus to terrorism at this time,” US National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Mehan said.

Witnesses said they heard an explosion and saw smoke coming out from the doomed passenger plane before it crashed into the mountains.

Winkelmann stressed that they are one with the bereaved families in hoping for the quick outcome of the investigation.

“We have the best technical know-how on the scene and I believe the investigation will bring results as soon as possible,” he said.

(With reports from AFP and Inquirer.net)

(www.asianjournal.com)
(Las Vegas March 26 – April 1, 2015 Sec. A pg.1)

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