The human cost of the Germanwings plane crash was laid bare on Tuesday as it emerged that a number of schoolchildren died in the French Alps disaster.
Amongst the 150 fatalities were 16 German schoolchildren returning from a language exchange trip in Spain. The teenage pupils, all studying Spanish in year 10, were accompanied by two school teachers on the flight.
They attended the Joseph Konig school in Haltern am See in western Germany. They had been staying with the Spanish families of students at the Giola institute in Llinars del Valles, near Barcelona.
Bodo Klimpel, mayor of the town, said the school had received confirmation that the students had boarded the flight.
Read more: 'No one survived' Airbus A320 crash, French police say
“The state of shock that is palpable everywhere, that is pretty much the worst that anyone could imagine,” he told a press conference. “Rescue services have not been able to reach the crash site which means we have no final confirmation of the worst, however we have to assume the worst.”
Mr Klimpel said teachers and students would receive counselling and special assemblies were being organised to help them process their grief.
Above: Relatives of passengers on the Germanwings flight at Barcelona airport
At a press conference held by Germanwings, the operator of the flight, it was confirmed that 144 passengers, including two babies, as well as two pilots and four members of cabin crew were on board the flight.
Germanwings said it is believed that 67 German nationals were on board the flight, and Spain said 45 of the passengers were believed to be Spanish.