Angela Merkel shocked by plane crash

Plane crashes in southern France Angela Merkel shocked by plane crash

Chancellor Merkel has expressed her shock at the news that a plane belonging to a German airline has crashed. Her deepest sympathy, she says, goes to the loved ones of those who have lost their lives.

The Chancellor delivers a statement

"My thoughts and my sympathy are with those who have so suddenly lost their lives."

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Federal Transport Minister Dobrindt are already on their way to the crash site. Merkel will be visiting it herself on Wednesday.

"My thoughts and my sympathy – and those of the entire German government – are with those whose lives have been so abruptly ended, many of them Germans. The suffering of their families is unimaginable," said Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday afternoon to journalists.

The German government will be doing all it can to ensure that the families "receive all the support and help that can be given at times like this."

Flight 4U9525 from Barcelona to Düsseldorf was carrying 142 passengers and 6 crew members. The Germanwings Airbus 320 crashed on Tuesday morning close to the town of Barcelonnette in the southern French Alps. Families can call the Federal Foreign Office helpline on 030 5000 3000 and the Düsseldorf Airport helpline on 0800 7766350.

Shock and grief

The crash of the German plane is a dreadful shock, said the Chancellor. In Germany, in France and in Spain we grieve the victims. Apart from the bare flight data not much is yet known about the cause of the crash, and it would not be appropriate to speculate at this time, said Angel Merkel. The incident will be thoroughly investigated. "Today I am first trying to fathom the sheer scope of the suffering that this disaster has brought to so many people."

Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also expressed his sympathy for the loved ones of passengers on board the flight. "At this difficult time, our thoughts are with all those anxious for news of loved ones likely to have been among the passengers or crew."

He announced that the Federal Foreign Office has set up a crisis unit to investigate the details of what has happened. This unit will be coordinating all efforts. The German Ambassador in Paris is already on her way to the crash site in the south of France. Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Federal Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt will be flying to the site on Tuesday afternoon.

Germany liaising closely with France and Spain

Angela Merkel reported that she had already spoken by telephone with both French President François Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. "We agreed that our countries will help each other in every conceivable way in order to establish the cause of this disaster and to support the rescue forces at the crash site and the staff at the airports."

The Chancellor announced, "I shall be flying to the crash site tomorrow to gain a first hand impression and to speak to those responsible on the ground." She will be accompanied by Hannelore Kraft, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Chancellor cancelled all further appointments on Tuesday so that she can be apprised immediately of further developments.