Israel confirms citizen killed in German plane crash
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Israel confirms citizen killed in German plane crash

Family of Eyal Baum, 39, notified; France says black box found; all 150 passengers feared dead

Emergency vehicles are parked on March 24, 2015 in the southeastern French town of Seyne les Alpes after a German Airbus A320 of the low-cost carrier Germanwings passenger plane crashed, killing all 150 people on board. Inset: Eyal Baum. (photo credits: AFP/BORIS HORVAT and Facebook)
Emergency vehicles are parked on March 24, 2015 in the southeastern French town of Seyne les Alpes after a German Airbus A320 of the low-cost carrier Germanwings passenger plane crashed, killing all 150 people on board. Inset: Eyal Baum. (photo credits: AFP/BORIS HORVAT and Facebook)

The Foreign Ministry confirmed Tuesday evening that an Israeli citizen living in Barcelona was aboard a German plane which crashed near a ski resort in the French Alps earlier in the day.

The family of Eyal Baum, 39, has been notified, the ministry said in a statement.

The Germanwings Airbus A320, a low-cost subsidiary of Lufthansa, crashed in a remote area on Tuesday, killing all 150 people on board.

Meanwhile, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said a black box had been found, but did not say whether it was a data recorder or a cockpit voice recorder.

Eyal Baum, 39, an Israeli citizen confirmed to have been aboard a German airliner which crashed in France on March 24 (photo credit: Facebook)
Eyal Baum, 39, an Israeli citizen confirmed to have been aboard a German airliner which crashed in France on March 24 (photo credit: Facebook)

“A black box was found and will be delivered to investigators,” Cazeneuve told reporters.

The crew of the Germanwings flight did not send a distress signal, civil aviation authorities told AFP.

“The crew did not send a Mayday. It was air traffic control that decided to declare the plane was in distress because there was no contact with the crew of the plane,” the source said.

France’s junior transport minister said there were no survivors from the crash.

Photos of crash site from the La Provence newspaper showed scattered black flecks across a mountain and several larger airplane body sections with windows, five in one chunk and four in another. French officials said a helicopter crew that landed briefly in the area saw no signs of life.

“Everything is pulverized. The largest pieces of debris are the size of a small car. No one can access the site from the ground,” Gilbert Sauvan, president of the general council, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, told The Associated Press.

Germanwings said Flight 9525 carried 144 passengers, including two babies, and six crew members. Officials believe 67 German nationals were on board, including 16 high school students on an exchange program from the German town of Haltern. Dutch officials said one citizen was killed.

Police officers at the Joseph-Koenig secondary school in Haltern am See, western Germany on March 24, 2015. A group of 16 school children and 2 teachers from this school are believed to have been on board the crashed Germanwings airplane. (photo credit: Marcel Kusch/AFP/DPA)
Police officers at the Joseph-Koenig secondary school in Haltern am See, western Germany on March 24, 2015. A group of 16 school children and 2 teachers from this school are believed to have been on board the crashed Germanwings airplane. (photo credit: Marcel Kusch/AFP/DPA)

The plane left Barcelona Airport at 10:01 a.m., then began descending again shortly after reaching its cruising height of 38,000 feet, Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann said. The descent lasted eight minutes, he told reporters in Cologne.

Eric Heraud of the French Civil Aviation Authority said the plane lost radio contact at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, but “never declared a distress alert itself.” He said the combination of loss of radio contract with a control center and the plane’s quick descent prompted the control service to declare a distress situation.

“We cannot say at the moment why our colleague went into the descent, and so quickly and without previously consulting air traffic control,” said Germanwings’ director of flight operations, Stefan-Kenan Scheib.

The plane crashed at an altitude of about 2,000 meters (6,550 feet), at Meolans-Revels, near the popular ski resort of Pra Loup. The site is 700 kilometers (430 miles) south-southeast of Paris.

“It was a deafening noise. I thought it was an avalanche, although it sounded slightly different. It was short noise and lasted just a few seconds,” Sandrine Boisse, the president of the Pra Loup tourism office, told The Associated Press.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told BFM television he expected “an extremely long and extremely difficult” search-and-rescue operation because of the area’s remoteness. The weather in the area deteriorated Tuesday afternoon, with a chilly rain falling.

Winkelmann said the pilot, whom he did not name, had more than 10 years’ experience working for Germanwings and its parent airline Lufthansa.

The aircraft was delivered to Lufthansa in 1991, had approximately 58,300 flight hours in some 46,700 flights, Airbus said. The plane last underwent a routine check in Duesseldorf on Monday, and its last regular full check took place in the summer of 2013.

Germanwings is a lower-cost unit of Lufthansa, Germany’s biggest airline, and serves mostly European destinations. It has been operating since 2002, part of traditional national carriers’ response to competition from European budget carriers.

AFP contributed to this report.

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