Last updated: 05:48 PM ET, Tue March 24 2015

Germanwings Search and Rescue Suspended Until Daybreak

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | March 24, 2015

Germanwings Search and Rescue Suspended Until Daybreak

Photo via Twitter

French rescue teams have already found one of the flight recorders from the Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed in the in the French Alps this morning.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed the news, saying "A black box that we found a few hours after the crash will immediately be examined to help the investigation move forward quickly.”

The flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf crashed in southern France near the village of Digne, where debris had been found. The mountainous area was too remote to get too quickly, but French military helicopters spotted the wreckage shortly after it disappeared from radar screens.

One French official said the plane “disintegrated” and that debris found so far was no bigger than an automobile. With darkness having descended on Europe, the plan is for the search to continue tomorrow with the beginning of the removal of debris and bodies to be brought down the mountain.

The cause of the crash is unknown. All 144 passengers and six crew – including two babies and 16 German school children returning from an exchange program in Spain – are feared dead.

About two dozen French search team members will guard the site overnight. In the morning, nearly 700 police- and firemen, a specialized mountain rescue team, and 15 helicopters will resume its tragic task, according to France’s Ministry of Interior.

Germanwings, a popular low-budget European carrier, is a subsidiary of Lufthansa Airlines.

Pilots of the flight apparently made a distress call at 10.47a.m. French time, and the plane then disappeared from radar 33 minutes later. Reports say the flight was still in a straight path according to radar, and that it was in a controlled descent before air traffic controllers lost contact with the flight. Germanwings said the Airbus A320 was a 24-year old twin-engine jet.

This is the second Airbus A320 to go down in the last four months. An Airasia flight from Indonesia to Singapore crashed in December, killing all 162 on board.

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