The crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 killed 150 people, including 16 students and two teachers from a school in Haltern-am-See. The small town of 35,000 is 326 miles east of Berlin.
The students lived in Llinars del Valles, “a small town outside Barcelona, immersed in Spanish language and culture.” They had participated in a class exchange program in Spain, which the school took part in for six years.
“It was a Spanish language exchange program and they were flying home after having what was probably the most wonderful time of their lives,” exclaimed North Rhine-Westphalia education minister Sylvia Loehrmann. “It’s so tragic, so sad.”
The 10th-grade students, aged around 15 years old, attended Joseph-Koenig High School. The school canceled classes on Wednesday, but offered grief counseling.
“I and the whole town, we are very shocked at this moment,” said Mayor Bodo Klimpel.
People of the town constructed a memorial for those lost in the plane crash. Church bells tolled out of respect for the dead.
“When we first got the call we were hopeful thinking maybe they had missed the flight,” said Headmaster Ulrich Wessel, adding:
But the minister told us that our students and teachers were on the passenger list. Our sympathy most of all goes out to the parents who have lost their children, the grandparents who have lost their grandchildren. All the relatives. At the school at the moment is the husband of one of the young colleagues who died. They have been married for less than half a year. I’m speechless faced with this tragedy.
The small Spanish town is in a state of shock.
“We are completely shattered and the students are also devastated,” expressed Deputy Mayor Pere Grive.
There is no explanation yet for why the plane crashed into the French Alps. Authorities discovered the black boxes, however, which were sent to BEA in Paris. The investigative authority announced they extracted usable recordings from the cockpit black box.