Lufthansa plane crash claims 150 victims including one Israeli

Spain France Plane Crash

Grieving families at Barcelona airport. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

A sole Israeli was among the 150 passengers killed on Tuesday on board a Lufthansa flight when the airplane crashed into the French Alps.

Eyal Baum, 39, originally from the Hod Hasharon district in central Israel, was among the 150 passengers killed on Tuesday when flight 9525 from Barcelona to Düsseldorf crashed into the French Alps.

Baum’s family heard of the crash on the news and knew that he was on board. They contacted the Israeli Foreign Ministry and hours later received the tragic news that he had been killed.

Baum was a resident of Barcelona at the time of his death and was probably on his way to Düsseldorf for business.

The victims included two babies, two opera singers and 16 German high school students and their teachers returning from an exchange trip to Spain. It was the deadliest crash in France in decades.

While investigators searched through debris on steep, desolate slopes, families across Europe reeled with shock and grief. Sobbing relatives at both airports were led away by airport workers and crisis counselors.

“The site is a picture of horror. The grief of the families and friends is immeasurable,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after being flown over the crash scene. “We must now stand together. We are united in our great grief.”

Cause of Crash Still Unclear

The cause of the crash is yet unclear. There are unconfirmed reports that the plane had been grounded for a day due to maintenance issues.

A black box recovered from the scene and pulverized pieces of debris strewn across Alpine mountainsides holds clues as to what caused the German jetliner to take an unexplained eight-minute dive midway through the flight. It is being examined.

France Plane Crash

A helicopter hovers over the site of the plane crash. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

The Airbus A320 operated by Germanwings, a budget subsidiary of Lufthansa, was less than an hour from landing in Düsseldorf on a flight from Barcelona when it unexpectedly went into rapid descent. No distress calls were sent out by the pilots, who seemed to have lost radio contact with their control center, France’s aviation authority said, adding to the mystery.

The White House and the airline chief said there was no sign that terrorism was involved, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged reporters not to speculate on the cause. “We still don’t know much beyond the bare information on the flight, and there should be no speculation on the cause of the crash,” she said in Berlin. “All that will be investigated thoroughly.”

Lufthansa Vice President Heike Birlenbach told reporters in Barcelona that for the time being, “we say it is an accident.”

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that the black box “will be immediately investigated.” He did not specify whether it was the flight data recorder or the cockpit voice recorder.

These devices — orange boxes designed to survive extreme heat and pressure — should provide investigators with a second-by-second timeline of the plane’s flight.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr called it the “blackest day of our company’s 60-year history.” He insisted, however, that flying “remains after this terrible day the safest mode of transport.”

 Staff and AP