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Alps crash: 'Nothing left but debris and bodies'

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Alps crash: 'Nothing left but debris and bodies'
A helicopter flies off to the scene of the crash site in the French Alps. Photo: AFP
16:31 CET+01:00
Emergency crews began a difficult operation on Tuesday to recover the bodies of the victims of the Germanwings plane crash from high slopes of the French Alps. One French MP who flew above the crash site described the "horror" of what he saw.

LIVE BLOG: Read the latest on the plane crash

There is no hope of finding any survivors on board the doomed Germanwings airline that crashed in a remote area of the French Alps on Tuesday, police said.

"There is no need for any rescue operations, everyone is dead," said a police officer in the town of Le Vernet, near the crash site.

He said it was virtually impossible that survivors would be found among the 144 passengers and six crew on board the Airbus flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf.

The area had been "sealed off for the start of the investigation," he added.    

Christophe Castaner, MP in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region and mayor of the town of Forcalquier flew above the site with Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and described what he saw.
 
 
(First photos of the crash site. Screengrab BFM TV)
 
He tweeted of the "horror" at in the mountains, adding that the plane was "totally destroyed".
 
"There's nothing but debris and bodies," he added.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said a helicopter that reached the crash site confirmed there were no survivors.

He also said authorities have not determined the cause of the crash.

(Another photo of the crash site. Photo: AFP)

A crisis cell has been set up by authorities in Le Vernet, located in the Blanche valley between the towns of Digne-les-Bains and Barcelonette.

Seven police and civil security helicopters have been deployed to the area, where an emergency flight control centre has been established to organise the heavy air traffic to and from the crash site, according to a source close to the operation.

Around 360 emergency fire fighters in surrounding regions have been sent to the area to assist local forces.

Exceptional logistical material is also being rushed to the zone, including lighting to allow salvage operations to continue through the night.

The operation to find and remove the bodies from the crash site will be hampered by the fact the plane hit the mountain at an altitude of 2,000 metres. 

The debris of the plane is believed to be spread over two kilometres squared and the site is not accessible by road. 

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