Students From An Exchange Trip Were On The Flight

According to French newspaper The Local, among the victims of Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 were 16 pupils and two teachers from the Joseph Koenig school in the German town of Haltern am See, flying back from a Spanish exchange program outside Barcelona. The BBC reports that a town spokesperson said it had no official confirmation that this was the case, but local media are reporting that the school has been shut down for the day and all students sent home. German podcast This Week In Germany tweeted: "The office of the mayor of Haltern has confirmed that the school class was booked to travel on the flight."

A helicopter has reached the crash site and found no survivors, and French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said that debris had been found. Airbus is sending a team of investigators to the crash site, and German chancellor Angela Merkel said in a press conference Tuesday that she planned to travel to the crash site, too.

The plane descended for 18 minutes before crashing into a remote area of the Alps, but no clues have yet been offered as to why it crashed: There was good weather and no turbulence. There are conflicting reports over whether a distress signal was sent out by the plane before it crashed, and it lost contact with the ground shortly before the crash.