Hollande, Merkel, Rajoy arrive near French Alps crash site

REUTERS Photo

French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy arrived near the site of the German airliner that crashed in the French Alps.
      
The three leaders, looking sombre and dressed in black, met rescue workers and police outside the crisis centre set up in the wake of Tuesday's disaster, in which 150 people were killed.

French television reported that Hollande and Merkel had flown briefly in a helicopter over the accident site, where the debris of the Germanwings plane is littered across a hard-to-access mountain.        

Joined by Rajoy, who arrived by car, the leaders shook hands with a line of emergency workers who have been scrambling to find answers to the mysterious crash.        

Investigators scoured the pulverised debris of a German airliner for bodies and clues to its mysterious eight-minute descent and crash in the French Alps that killed all 150 aboard.
      
Hundreds of firefighters and police near the hamlet of Le Vernet launched a massive operation at the rugged crash site, accessible only by helicopter or by an arduous hike on foot.
     
Meanwhile in Paris, experts began analysing one of the plane's black boxes for clues as to why the Germanwings Airbus A320 went down in good weather -- an "inexplicable" disaster according to Lufthansa, the budget airline's parent company.

Meanwhile, relatives of the dead were to arrive Wednesday at a village near the crash site, where a counselling centre had been established.
      
The examination of the damaged black box, which records conversations and noises in the cockpit, would begin "in the coming hours," pledged French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

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