Merkel to visit French plane crash site on Wednesday

24th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she will go on Wednesday to the French Alpine region where a German passenger plane crashed, killing all 150 people on board.

She said her foreign and transport ministers, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Alexander Dobrindt, were heading to the area, in a mountain range known as "Les Trois Eveches", later on Tuesday.

"I myself will travel there tomorrow to get an impression and speak with the local authorities," she told reporters in Berlin.

Merkel described the news as "a shock which has plunged us into deep mourning in Germany, France and Spain".

While the exact cause of the crash was not yet known, it would be wrong to speculate, the German leader continued.

"What concerns me now is the extent of the suffering, which this catastrophe has brought to so many people. My thoughts and sympathies, and those of the entire government, go out to the people who have lost their lives, including many compatriots," Merkel said.

Germanwings said a total of 67 Germans were believed to have been on board the flight traveling from Barcelona to the western German city of Duesseldorf.

The suffering of the victims' families was "immeasurable" and everything was being done to ensure they received help and support, Merkel added.

She said she had spoken by phone with French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

"We agreed that our countries will help each other in every possible way to find out the cause of this catastrophe."

German President Joachim Gauck cut short a trip to South America on news of the accident.

"I am shocked, as are countless people at home, and can only imagine the sorrow, the dismay and the suffering of the affected families," he told journalists in Peru.

Gauck cancelled a state visit to Uruguay planned for Wednesday and Thursday to fly home to Germany.

© 2015 AFP

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