Relatives of German plane crash victims gather at Barcelona airport

24th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

Grim-faced and some in tears, relatives of passengers of the German airliner that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday gathered at Barcelona airport, desperate for news of their loved ones.

All 150 people are feared dead after the Airbus 320 operated by Lufthansa's budget carrier Germanwings went down in southeastern France en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf in Germany.

Spain's King Felipe VI and his wife Letizia cut short their first state visit to France after the tragedy.

"We know the number of victims is extremely high -- a large number of Spaniards, Germans, but also Turks," the king said, confirming that no survivors had yet been found.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told public television TVE there were 45 people with Spanish-sounding surnames on board the plane but it was not immediately clear how many were Spanish citizens.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy voiced his shock and said he had set up a crisis cell to deal with the disaster.

"It is dramatic and sad news with the loss of many lives," he told reporters in the northern Basque Country.

Rajoy said he had suspended his agenda to follow developments.

"Shocked by the air accident in the Alps. A tragedy. We are cooperating with the French and German authorities in the investigation," Rajoy said in a Twitter message.

More than a dozen people at Barcelona's El Prat airport approached the counter of Swissport which provides ground handling services for several airlines, including Germanwings, seeking information.

Three couples and four men, who were visibly shaken, were among those who approached the counter.

An elegantly dressed man in his 60s tried to hide his tears behind sunglasses.

Another man in his 30s looked down at the ground and repeatedly shook his head as if he did not want to believe the tragic news.

All of them were taken to a room set up for them by police officers, who kept journalists at bay.

No Germanwings representatives were at the airport. Only three employees staffed the Swissport counter, which provides ground services for several other airlines.

"We can't talk. There is a communications crisis cell for that," one Swissport employee told AFP.

The president of the regional Catalan government, Artur Mas, said psychologists were available at the airport for the family members "in these delicate and complicated times".


© 2015 AFP

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