That brings us to the end of our live coverage for today. You can continue to get the latest developments on our main story.
Spohr: What they [the families] have gone through is incomprehensible. It was difficult to be there.
Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann tells reporters whoever wants to come to Germany or France from the other side of the Atlantic will be supported financially.
Spohr: The aircraft will have 150 seats and we will see over the next few hours how many of those we can fill.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr says there will be a special flight to Marseilles tomorrow at 08:45 (local time) from Barcelona for family members. With the assistance of the French authorities they will then bring relatives to the crash site.
Lufthansa and Germanwings executives are expected to give a news conference shortly at El Prat airport in Barcelona.
The BBC's Tim Willcox has been reporting from Seyne-les-Alpes on Wednesday, watching as search and rescue teams head out to the treacherous terrain of the mountainside crash site.
He said it has been "a day of grief, bewilderment, but of huge professionalism here".
George Baker sent us this picture of the German flag flying at half mast at a Lufthansa flight training centre in Arizona.
Reuters reports a third US citizen was on board the flight. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the name of the victim was not being released at this time.
BBC correspondent Tom Burridge
Llinars del Valles, Spain
There were solemn faces and sunglasses to hide the tears, as children in this small village held a private ceremony at their school. They read a poem and listened to a song that their German friends, here on an exchange, had played to them.
In the village's main square there was a moment's silence, a scene repeated across Spain, as the public learnt more about the Spanish passengers on board. It emerged a team of Swedish footballers made the best decision of their lives when they opted not to catch the flight.
The authorities in Catalonia have been collecting DNA samples from relatives, who are staying near Barcelona Airport, and Lufthansa is working to organise transport to take some of the families to the crash site.Copyright: AP
BBC Persian Service
The two Iranian victims on Germanwings 4U 9525 were both sports journalists who had travelled to Barcelona to cover Sunday's match between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Milad Hojatoleslami worked for semi-official Tasnim news agency and Hossein Javadi was a journalist at the Vatan-e-Emrouz newspaper.
They had waited at the airport in Barcelona for two days to find cheap tickets for a flight to Germany.
- Copyright: Getty Images
Here is another view of the area in the French Alps where teams are searching, as shown in this image provided by the French Interior Ministry.
Many countries are mourning the victims of the crash, with more than a dozen nations involved. French President Francois Hollande, seen here between Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has promised to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with all of those affected.Copyright: AFP/Getty
Some more news on the US citizens thought to have died in the crash.
Drexel University said in a statement that Emily Selke graduated with honours in 2013, having been a music industry major, AP reported.
A statement posted on the Facebook page of her university sorority Gamma Sigma Sigma said Emily "always put others before herself and cared deeply for all those in her life".
Two Americans who were on board the Germanwings flight have been named as Yvonne Selke, from Virginia, and her daughter Emily Selke, AP reported.
AP said Yvonne Selke was a US government contractor. She was employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, in Washington, and worked with the Pentagon's satellite mapping office, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
The BBC's Jenny Hill, who is in Haltern, says the trip the German exchange students took to Barcelona was oversubscribed.
"Scores of pupils from the school had wanted to join the trip," she said. "The school held a lottery to see which of the students would get a place."Copyright: Getty Images
A reminder of the inhospitable terrain investigators have been working in.Copyright: AFP
A crisis centre has been set up in the French Alps to help deal with the aftermath of the crash. The BBC's Tim Willcox visited the site, which is where families of the victims are likely to be accommodated.
French investigators say usable data has been extracted from the cockpit voice recorder of Germanwings 4U 9525, but it has so far yielded no clues as to the cause of the plane's crash. Latest BBC News story here.
A student who knew some of the German students who were killed in the plane crash is comforted during a minute's silence in front of the council building in Llinars del Valles, near Barcelona, Spain. The group of teenagers had been staying there on an exchange trip.Copyright: AP
German, French and Spanish flags, tied with a black ribbon, have been placed in a field near the village of Le Vernet, close to the crash site.Copyright: AFP/Getty
BEA investigators have released an image of the sealed container holding the flight voice recorder. It does contain usable sounds and voices, according to Mr Jouty.Copyright: BEA
A photograph of British victim Martyn Matthews, pictured here with his wife Sharon and children Jade and Nathan, has now been released.Copyright: AP
Jouty: Small size of debris suggests aircraft did not explode in flight
Mr Jouty confirmed that members of his team had listened to the recording and heard voices, but would not give any more details.
Jouty: Hope to have first rough ideas from the voice recorder in a few days. A fuller understanding will take weeks or even months.
Mr Jouty, seen here addressing reporters at the BEA's headquarters north of Paris, said the aircraft's descent began about one minute after its last routine communication with air traffic controllers.Copyright: AP
Jouty: We have been able to extract a usable audio file from the sound recorder.
Jouty: Sound recorder was found on site around 17:00 local time on Tuesday and was quickly sent to BEA, arriving at 09:45 on Wednesday.
Jouty: Last altitude recorded by radar was around 6,000 feet, approximately the altitude of the mountains.
Jouty: Last message broadcast from the aircraft was routine, confirming an instruction from the control tower.
Remi Jouty from the French investigating organisation, BEA is giving a news conference. He says the accident site is very steep, and very difficult to access, even on foot.
There is a reminder of what we know so far here as investigators work to find out exactly what happened to the Germanwings flight.
The psychologist in charge of supporting families in Duesseldorf, Sabine Rau, said not knowing what happened to the plane will be difficult for relatives to deal with.
"At the beginning, people have a gigantic need for information," she told the BBC. She said some people may find solace in travelling to the crash site in order to be close to the unfolding situation.
"For others it's better to to stay home, with the people they love," she added. "The most difficult thing for us is to watch people suffer. Within minutes, these people got this news, and their lives were turned upside down."
This image shows Lufthansa employees in Frankfurt mourning the victims of the crash.Copyright: AFP
Mr Rajoy has thanked all of the volunteers for their help and said the French people had been generous.
Chancellor Merkel, President Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at the news conference on Wednesday afternoon.Copyright: BBC
Chancellor Merkel praised the French people and especially the local residents for their readiness to help.
President Hollande says that the casing of the second black box recorder has been found, but not the recorder itself.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking alongside President Hollande, said: "Everything is being done in order to attempt to understand the inexplicable, even if it takes a long time. It is a catastrophe in an inaccessible geographical region."
Hollande: Families of the victims will be welcomed and supported. A team of psychologists, carers and local teachers acting as interpreters has been assembled.Copyright: BBC
The Spanish government has raised the number of known Spanish victims in the crash from 49 to at least 51. Minister Francisco Martinez said earlier in the day that the 49 figure was provisional. The chief executive of Germanwings had said there were 35 Spaniards on board but that the nationalities of all of the passengers was not yet known.
President Hollande says his country is standing "shoulder to shoulder" with all of the nations affected.
Hollande: Everything will be done to find, identify and hand back to the families the bodies of their loved ones.
French President Francois Hollande, speaking at a press conference in Seyne-les-Alpes, describes the crash as "a terrible catastrophe".
A search and rescue worker is seen at the crash site in this picture as work continues to recover bodies and wreckage from the scene.Copyright: EPA
- Copyright: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Roads in the area around the crash site have been closed.
The US State Department has confirmed the death of two US citizens who were on flight 4U 9525. In a tweet it said it was reviewing whether any other US passengers were on board.
"We are in contact with family members and extend our deepest condolences to families," it added.
The plane's second flight recorder has been found but is badly damaged, according to the New York Times. It spoke to a senior French official who said that workers on the scene had found the casing of the data recorder, but the memory chip inside had been dislodged and was missing.
It also reports investigators have so far been unable to retrieve any information from the cockpit voice recorder - recovered by a helicopter team on Tuesday.
BBC's Anna Holligan tweets: German FM: 'No-one understands better than #Netherlands how much grief we feel' #MH17 v @GermanyDiplo #Germanwings
The Airbus A320 flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf was carrying 144 passengers and six crew when it went down in the French Alps. The list of victims is constantly being updated, but we do know where most of them came from.
- 72 were from Germany
- 51 were Spanish
- Three Britons were on the flight
- There were three people from Argentina on board
- Two victims each were from Australia, Iran and Venezuela
- The Netherlands, Colombia, Mexico, Japan, Denmark, Belgium and Israel all had one citizen on board
The names of several of the passengers have also been released. BBC News takes a look at who some of the victims were.
Le Figaro reports (in French) that the first family members of victims have arrived in Digne-les-Bains, near to the crash site.
BBC correspondent Anna HolliganCopyright: BBC
People have been signing a book of condolence at Duesseldorf airport.
@realmadriden tweets: Minute of silence to honour the victims in today's training session #RealMadrid
- Copyright: Elysee Palace
The Elysee Palace has released this photo of French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, together with NRW Premier Hannelore Kraft, examining a map of the area on board an aircraft.
Argentine newspaper La Nacion (in Spanish) has named one of the victims as 51-year-old businessman Juan Armando Pomo. He had worked in Paraguay for the past 20 years and was in Barcelona on business together with a Venezuelan colleague, the paper says.
Yesterday, the Argentine consulate in France confirmed the identities of the other two Argentinean victims, according to the same paper.
Sebastián Gabriel Greco and Gabriela Luján Maumus, both 28, were a couple. Miss Maumus was the bass guitarist for a rock group called Asalto al Parque Zoológico. A colleague told the paper that she was in Europe on "a personal journey with her partner".
tweets: "Two special flights for families and friends of the victims will fly to France tomorrow." - Carsten Spohr
Rescue workers can be seen walking through debris on mountain slopes of the French Alps as a helicopter flies overhead.Copyright: EPA
Lufthansa's vice president is attending a meeting with some of the relatives of the crash victims. The airline says its priority is to facilitate the families and make sure that a team of psychologists is looking after them.
President Hollande has praised the rescue workers who are working to retrieve bodies and wreckage from the hard-to-reach crash site. Debris has been scattered across a large area of mountainous terrain.
- Copyright: Unknown
The husband of one of the victims said he was "devastated" after she and their baby son died in the Germanwings crash.
Marina Bandres Lopez Belio, 37, who was originally from Spain but lived in Manchester, died alongside seven-month-old Julian Pracz-Bandres.
Her husband Pawel Pracz "We have been living in Manchester for seven years. Marina was an editor and colourist, and we were both working in post-production for film and video.
"Marina was visiting her family in Spain for her uncle's funeral, she bought the tickets at the last moment, and decided to return to Manchester quickly as she wanted to return to her daily routine as soon as possible. I'm with my closest family in Manchester, and in close contact with our family in Spain at this very difficult time."
- Copyright: BBC
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is also meeting with investigators at the scene now, alongside President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel.
Another British victim has been named as Paul Andrew Bramley. The 28-year-old from Hull was studying hospitality and hotel management at Ceasar Ritz College in Lucerne, Switzerland. He had taken a few days holiday in Barcelona and was flying back to the UK, via Duesseldorf, to see his family.
His mother Carol, who lives in Majorca but had travelled to the UK to meet her son, said: "Paul was a kind, caring and loving son. He was the best son, he was my world."Copyright: AP
President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel are meeting search and rescue teams during their visit.Copyright: BBC
The two leaders are to be joined by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy later.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have arrived in Seyne-les-Alpes, near the crash site.
Search and rescue personnel make their way through to the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320.Copyright: AFP
French police and rescue teams set up a temporary shelter near the site of the Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps.Copyright: Getty Images
British businessman Martyn Matthews, from Wolverhampton, was among the victims of the crash, PA reports. The 50-year-old father of two grown-up children is thought to have been travelling to Germany for a business meeting.
BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott said: "The cockpit voice recorder 'black box' is pretty battered but the devices are bomb-proof, literally, so investigators should still be able to listen to what happened on board.
"The large, orange cylindrical part in the middle holds the memory boards that record the pilots' voices, and that looks intact to me.
"The critical question now is, were the pilots speaking during those lost eight minutes when the aircraft dropped from 38,000ft to the ground?"
British Prime Minister David Cameron has also been speaking about the tragedy. Addressing MPs at Prime Minister's Questions, he said: "It is heartbreaking to hear about the schoolchildren, the babies, the families whose lives have been brought to an end."Copyright: PA
US President Barack Obama has expressed his condolences to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a phone call, the US Embassy in Madrid said. The president also offered assistance from American officials as the investigation into the crash continues.
French interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet tells reporters that air crash investigators are "not in a race against time".
"We need to move forward methodically," he was quoted by AFP as saying.
Tributes of flowers, candles and teddy bears are growing outside Cologne Bonn Airport, the headquarters of Germanwings.Copyright: Reuters
Spain has declared three days of national mourning for the victims and a minute's silence has been held for the victims, one of many moments of reflection taking place across Europe.
Bayern Munich players observe a minute's silence to pay tribute to the victims of Germanwings flight
Here is another image of the cockpit voice recorder released by French civil aviation authority BEA, showing the damage it sustained in the crash.Copyright: Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses
Employees of Barcelona's El Prat airport take pictures of a wreath of flowers displayed in honour of the victims of the crash.Copyright: AFP
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr, himself a pilot, has said that it is "inexplicable for us, how an airplane in good mechanical condition, with two experienced, Lufthansa-trained pilots, could encounter such a tragedy from cruising altitude".
A man passes by a police officer to deliver flowers to the gymnasium set up as a makeshift chapel to welcome families of the victims in Seyne-les-Alpes, south-eastern France, which is near the crash site.Copyright: EPA
Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin tells the BBC that more than 14 magistrates from the region and more than 200 police officers are working on the case. Mr Robin, who has been working with Germany and Spain to formally request information about the flight, said it is hoped that information from the aircraft's black box voice recorder will be available later on Wednesday.
"The black box which has been found, is currently at the accident investigation bureau (BEA) in Paris and is being examined," he said. "We hope perhaps to have some results by the end of the day. As you know it is a complicated process to retrieve the recordings from these devices and expert analysis will take place but all this takes time."
Mr Winkelmann said there were 72 Germans and 35 Spaniards on board the flight. Spain's government earlier said that 49 Spanish victims had been identified.
Three generations of one family - a schoolgirl, her mother and grandmother - were on the Germanwings plane that crashed, officials from a town outside Barcelona say. A statement from Sant Cugat del Valles town hall did not provide their names, AP reports, but the girl was aged between 10 and 11.
- Copyright: AP
It is now known that the victims came from all over the world. While the majority were from Spain and Germany, citizens of the UK, Australia, Argentina, Mexico, Japan, Israel, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Denmark, the Netherlands, the USA and Belgium are also thought to be on board.
Thomas Winkelmann, chief executive of Germanwings, has said the nationalities of all of the passengers is not yet known and that the company is still trying to contact relatives of 27 victims.
Employees and trustees of the opera house Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, where two of the victims had recently performed, observe a minute's silence in memory of those killed in the crash.Copyright: Getty Images
Pupils at the Giola secondary school in the Catalan village of Llinars del Valles have held a 15-minute ceremony of remembrance for the 16 foreign exchange students they hosted over the past week.
During the ceremony, they listened to a German song their friends had played them and a Catalan poem was read out.
BBC correspondent Tom Burridge said villagers there "spoke of a profound sense of grief".
Germany's top security official says there is no evidence at this stage that foul play was involved in the plane crash. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters in Berlin that "according to the latest information there is no hard evidence that the crash was intentionally brought about by third parties".
Richard Granville in Alicante emails: My children also travel on school exchanges and I cry true tears of emotion for the pain which the families of the schoolchildren must be feeling, indeed for all those related, and friends of anyone in the plane. There are no words... just time to gently soften the raw suffering and desperation as reality of lost lives sinks home.
Germanwings: Lufthansa's budget hope - BBC News website report
The Lufthansa press office says that staffing issues have resulted in 11 aircraft being borrowed by Germanwings from other airlines, including Lufthansa itself, Air Berlin and Tui. As for the rest of the Germanwings fleet - comprising 78 planes, including 55 Airbuses - the press office could not say exactly how many would be in the air on Wednesday.
Following the news that some Germanwings crew are "unfit for service" on Wednesday, a spokesman in the Lufthansa press office told the BBC staff can declare themselves unfit to fly and do not have to specify a reason.
In this case Lufthansa says it is mainly cabin crew who have decided not to work, not pilots, and they believe it is because of emotional stress. They are not aware of anyone refusing to fly on safety grounds.
Pictures of the plane's cockpit voice recorder have been released by the Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses (BEA), the French civil aviation safety investigation authority. Despite the damage, officials examining the black box in Paris hope to retrieve data from it.Copyright: BEA
French Red Cross staff wait at the convention centre in Digne-les-Bains, near the site where Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed on Tuesday.Copyright: AFP
BBC News website coverage: At least three Britons among the dead.
BBC picture gallery: The search resumes
Joshua Friend is a young singer from Reading, England, who had spent time training in Germany with opera singer Oleg Bryjak, a passenger on board the plane.
He told the BBC: "He was so kind to me. It's really sad to have lost someone so decent. He didn't have to help me at all. He was so generous with his time and knowledge."
One Germanwings flight has been cancelled on Wednesday, the airline has said in a statement. Some crew members are "unfit for service" because of "emotional distress", the statement added.
Counsellors are on hand to support bereaved students in Haltern, western Germany.Copyright: AP
tweets: Germanwings has offered to fly the students' family members to France. So far no-one has taken them up on the offer
Germanwings employees console each other outside Cologne Bonn Airport on Wednesday as they hold a minute's silence.Copyright: Reuters
Germanwings has said maintenance work had been carried out on a flap covering the landing gear on the plane that crashed, but that it was a noise issue rather than a safety issue. The plane was cleared to fly 24 hours before take off.
The captain had been with Germanwings and parent company Lufthansa for more than 10 years and had clocked up 6,000 flying hours on the Airbus 320.
The Germanwings flight number 4U 9525 has now been retired, reports the BBC's Imelda Flattery.
A similar move was made by Malaysia Airlines when flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine.
Condolence messages for the victims of the plane crash are fixed on a pole on Wednesday in the departure area of the airport in Duesseldorf, western Germany.Copyright: AFP
A Swedish soccer team would have been aboard the ill-fated Germanwings flight that had they not changed their minds at the last minute, Yahoo News reports.
Low-cost airlines like Germanwings are no less safe than established airlines, The Daily Telegraph reports, citing industry figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
It says that IATA figures show show that location is the main factor in aviation safety.
Flags flutter at half-mast on top of the Reichstag building, the seat of the German lower house of parliament, or Bundestag, in Berlin on Wednesday.Copyright: Reuters
Part of the vertical stabilizer of the Germanwings Airbus A320 could be seen on Wednesday at the crash site in the French Alps.Copyright: AFP
Mr Wessel said there had been two Germanwings flights leaving Barcelona at a similar time which gave them hope the pupils may not have been on the plane that crashed, but later in the day there came "sad certainty" that they had indeed been on board.
"Our condolences and sympathy goes to the parents who have lost their beloved sons and daughters," he said.
- Copyright: BBC
Ulrich Wessel, principal of Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium, told a press conference that last Tuesday the school "saw off 16 cheerful young people" and teachers on an exchange trip, similar visits having taken place for "a number of years".
"This is a tragedy that makes you speechless," he said.
More from Philip Hammond on the number of Britons thought to be involved in the crash.
"We currently believe that three British people have been killed in this tragedy, but we cannot rule out the possibility that there are further British people involved.
"The level of information on the flight manifest doesn't allow us to rule out that possibility until we've completed some further checks.
"We are in contact with the families of those known to have been killed."
@Imeldaflattery tweets: Minute silence at Dusseldorf Airport. The moment 24 hours ago the German wings plane crashed.
"This constitutes a very dreadful tragedy," Sylvia Loehrmann, education minister of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, tells a press conference.
UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says at least three Britons are believed to have been killed in the Germanwings plane crash.
French interior ministry spokesman Paul-Henry Brandet says overnight rain and snow in the crash zone has made the rocky ravine of the crash site more slippery, increasing the difficulty of reaching the steep and remote area, AP reports.
Lufthansa and Germanwings flags are flying at half mast at Leipzig/Halle Airport in Schkeuditz, Germany, as the companies hold a minute's silence.Copyright: EPA
Key to the investigation is what happened between 10:30 and 10:31 on Tuesday morning said French government minister Segolene Royal, AP reports. Controllers were unable to make contract with the plane after that time.
There were at least three Kazakh nationals on board the plane, Le Figaro reports. The Kazakh foreign affairs minister announced that Erbol and Adil Imankoulov, born in 1965 and 1989 respectively, and Aijan Isengalieva, born in 1966, were among the victims.
Rescue helicopters are seen here flying over Seyne-les-Alpes on the way to the site where the Germanwings flight 4U 9525 crashed, as work to recover the bodies of victims resumes.Copyright: EPA
The Israeli foreign ministry has confirmed that one of the victims of the crash was 39-year-old Israeli national Eyal Baum, Israel Radio reports.
Mr Baum, of Hod HaSharon, was living in Barcelona and was on the flight to Duesseldorf for work. The station says his family has been notified.
Staff from Germanwings and parent company Lufthansa are to hold a minute's silence at 10:53 (09:53 GMT) on Wednesday - the time contact with the plane was lost. Six Germanwings crew are among the dead.
Wednesday morning has been traumatic for students at the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium in Haltern am See, western Germany. Two teachers and 16 teenagers from the secondary school were killed.Copyright: AFP
An information panel at Barcelona airport shows Germanwings flight GWI 9441 to Duesseldorf due to depart on Wednesday morning, a day after the airline's flight 4U 9225 crashed.Copyright: EPA
A team of 30 psychologists is preparing to welcome the families of victims in Seyne-les-Alpes on Wednesday, AFP reports. They will be based in a small sports hall in the village's youth club.
The black box of the crashed aircraft has arrived in Paris and will be looked at immediately, French transport minister Alain Vidalies announced on Europe 1 radio.
He said that although the box was in a damaged condition, "we believe we will still be able to check it… If there are voices, it will be extremely quick".
The minister continued: "Then, it's about analysing sounds, which could take several weeks, but that's the work that may give us an explanation."
This pupil at Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium told the BBC's Katya Adler she keeps thinking she will see her friends on Wednesday and that they will be able to tell her about their "adventures" in Spain.
"I cannot really think of them as dead people," she added.Copyright: BBC
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said it is "sadly likely" that some British nationals had been on board the plane.
UK resident Marina Bandres Lopez-Belio, originally from Jaca in Spain, has been named as being one of the passengers by the mayor of her Spanish home town. She was in Spain to attend the funeral of a relative.
Carol Friday from Melbourne, Australia, has been named as another of the 150 victims of Tuesday's crash. She had worked in nursing and midwifery for more than 40 years and had just celebrated her 68th birthday, ABC in Australia reported. She was on holiday with her son Greig.Copyright: AFP/Getty
Logistics will have to be put in place for those parents and relatives who may wish to travel to the crash site in the coming days, The BBC's Jenny Hill says.
A rescue helicopter from the French Gendarmerie flies over the snow covered French Alps during a search and rescue operation near the crash site, close to Seyne-les-Alpes, on Wednesday morning.Copyright: Reuters
One of the victims has been named as Oleg Bryjak, a baritone with Deutsche Oper am Rhein. The opera's artistic director Stephen Harrison described him as "an artist of many colours".
He said: "We're totally shocked and last night we had a big piano dress rehearsal of Verde's Aida, where I then told everybody that this had happened, and everyone was speechless.
"People were crying, it was terrible. We had to cancel the rehearsal, we couldn't go on."
One of the "most harrowing" details to emerge outside Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium is that some parents planning to travel to Dusseldorf to welcome their children home from their Spanish exchange only found out what had happened through media reports, says BBC Berlin correspondent Jenny Hill.
"Friends and parents desperately tried to contact those youngsters on their mobile phones and got no reply," she added.
Police, fire fighters and mountain rescue teams load items into a helicopter before heading to the crash site on Wednesday morning.Copyright: EPA
Burning candles and the pins of German airlines Condor, Germanwings and Lufthansa are placed by crew members outside the Germanwings headquarters at Cologne-Bonn Airport on Wednesday morning.Copyright: Reuters
BBC Berlin correspondent Jenny Hill tweets: "Sad morning in Haltern. Candles and flowers outside the school. And a painted sign - 'why?'."
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said investigators are looking into all possible causes of Tuesday's crash, but have appeared to rule out the likelihood of a terrorist attack, AFP reports.
"The debris from the plane is spread over one-and-a-half hectares, which is a significant area because the shock was significant, but it shows that the plane did not appear to have exploded," it quoted Mr Cazeneuve as telling French radio station RTL. The theory of a terrorist attack is "not the theory we're focusing on," Mr Cazeneuve said.
Police in the Spanish region of Catalonia say they are in the process of taking DNA samples from relatives of passengers in the vicinity of Barcelona Airport. A Catalan newspaper reported that at least 32 people had given samples.
The mayor of Seyne-les-Alpes near the site of the crash says that bereaved families are expected to begin arriving in his town shortly, AP reports. Mayor Francis Hermitte said that residents are offering to host the families because of a shortage of rooms to rent.
More images from the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium high school in Haltern am See, Germany, as students comforted each other on Wednesday morning.Copyright: Reuters
Spain has declared three days of mourning and will hold a minute of silence across the country at noon (11:00 GMT). Spanish King Felipe VI cut short his first state visit to France on Tuesday after hearing news of the tragedy.
Wednesday morning at the Joseph-Konig-Gymnasium high school in Haltern am See in Germany. The school is mourning the loss of 16 classmates and two teachers who were on the plane.Copyright: Reuters
Germanwings will have to cancel more flights on Wednesday as some crew members decline to fly. "This is due to crew members, who decided not to operate aircraft today following the reports on the accident," a statement on the company's website says. "We understand their decision."
Read more in this BBC report from 2014 about the differences between the two black boxes - the cockpit recorder and data recorder.
French interior minister confirms that the cockpit voice recorder is damaged. The second black box, the flight data recorder, has yet to be found.
Greig Friday, 29, from Melbourne, Australia, is one of those who died on the flight with his mother, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.Copyright: AFP
Two opera singers - Oleg Bryjak, 54 and Maria Radner, 34 - who had performed on stage in Barcelona were among those killed.
The black box device recovered from the plane is the cockpit voice recorder, AFP has just reported. It is damaged and is being sent to Paris, sources close to the inquiry say.
Debris of the jet could be seen on Tuesday scattered on the mountain side near Seyne-les-Alpes.Copyright: AP
It will take "at least a week" to search the remote site, police told AFP, and "at least several days" to repatriate the bodies. More than 300 policemen and 380 firefighters have been mobilised in addition to a squad of 30 mountain rescue police. Five investigators spent the night at the site.
The BBC's James Reynolds, in nearby Seyne-les-Alpes, says that answers may begin to emerge on Wednesday about the causes of the crash. There was no distress call from the pilots during the eight minutes the plane took to descend into the mountainside - and our correspondent says that the black box flight recorder will be the starting point for investigators trying to determine what went wrong.
Welcome to the BBC's live coverage as the search operation continues at the scene of Tuesday's Germanwings plane crash in the southern French Alps. All 150 people on board are feared dead.