Merkel to visit French plane crash site on Wednesday

BERLIN: 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.