An Airbus operated by Lufthansa’s Germanwings budget airline crashed in a remote area of the French Alps on Tuesday and all 148 on board were feared dead.
French President Francois Hollande said he believed none of those on board the A320 had survived, while the head of Lufthansa spoke of a dark day for the German airline.
“There were 148 people on board,” Hollande said. “The conditions of the accident, which have not yet been clarified, lead us to think there are no survivors.”
French officials said there were 142 passengers and six crew on board and the plane issued a distress call at 0947 GMT, about 52 minutes after take-off.
He added: “The accident happened in a zone that is particularly hard to access.”
It was the first crash of an airliner on French soil since the Concorde disaster just outside Paris in July 2000.
Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said it would be a “dark day” for the airline if the crash were confirmed.
“We do not yet know what has happened to flight 4U 9525. My deepest sympathy goes to the families and friends of our passengers and crew,” Lufthansa said on Twitter, citing Spohr.
“If our fears are confirmed, this is a dark day for Lufthansa. We hope to find survivors,” it said.
A spokesman for France’s DGAC aviation authority said the airliner crashed near the town of Barcelonnette about 100 km (65 miles) north of the French Riviera city of Nice.
The crashed A320 is 24 years old and has been with the parent Lufthansa group since 1991, according to online database airfleets.net