The leaders of France, Germany and Spain are visiting the scene of the Germanwings Airbus crash in the French Alps.
Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel and Mariano Rajoy are getting first-hand information about the search and recovery operation in the nearby village of Seynes-les-Alpes.
The leaders thanked the senior officials who have been coordinating the recovery effort.
They are also expected to meet some of the families of the 150 passengers and crew who died.
The search and recovery operation resumed at first light in southern France, the normally tranquil Alpine sky resonating to the sound of helicopters as teams of investigators are carried to and fro following Tuesday’s plane crash.
The French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told RTL radio that the black box recovered from the site was the cockpit voice recorder – which although damaged, could still provide information.
The recorder was brought to Paris on Wednesday morning for examination by the BEA, the French authority responsible for investigating air accidents.
The Flight Data recorder has yet to be found.
“In all we still have more than 600 men (involved in the operation) – gendarmes, firefighters, obviously medical teams on site, investigators, and people tasked with securing the sites,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet from the scene where the risky operation is being co-ordinated.
“That means protecting the area both to prevent it becoming polluted and damaged, and also so that investigators can work in complete safety since the terrain is very steep.”
Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 was en route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf when it came down in a rugged mountainous area while flying over France. No distress call was received from the aircraft.
The French government says all options must be examined into the cause – but the possibility it was a terrorist attack is not thought likely.
A hundred and fifty people died when the passenger jet ploughed into the mountainside.
Forty-five passengers had Spanish names and two Australians are known to be among the dead.
The plane plunged from its cruising height over a period of several minutes before disappearing from radar screens.
Military jets were scrambled to find out what was wrong, and found a scene of devastation shortly afterwards as they flew over the crash site.
Such was the impact that the fuselage completely disintegrated.
Euronews correspondent in the area Laurence Alexandrowicz said:
“After the search which resumed early this morning, the challenge is to accommodate the victims’ families expected here at Seyne-les-Alpes during the day – along with the three countries’ leaders: François Hollande, Angela Merkel and Mariano Rajoy.”
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