Germanwings plane crash: Three Americans among dead

image copyrightCourtesy of Zeta Gamma Sig
image captionEmily Selke (above) and her mother Yvonne Selke were among the dead

Three Americans died in the Alps air crash that killed 150 people, the US state department has confirmed.

Two of the victims have been named as Yvonne Selke and her adult daughter Emily Selke.

A third person was not being identified until their family was notified, the state department said.

The Airbus A320 crashed on Tuesday after an eight-minute rapid descent. There were no survivors.

An early analysis of one flight recorder has not shed light into the cause of the crash.

The German, French and Spanish leaders have arrived together in the French Alps to visit the scene on Wednesday.#

After arriving near the crash site, President Hollande, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Rajoy thanked the rescue workers for their efforts in difficult circumstances.

Earlier, the "black box" cockpit voice recorder was recovered by a helicopter team at the site near Digne.

media caption"You get a sense of how secluded and remote the area is and how difficult it will be for rescue services"

French investigators say usable data has been extracted from the device but it has so far yielded no clues as to the cause of the plane's crash.

Remi Jouty, the director of the French aviation investigative agency, said there were sounds and voices on the cockpit voice recorder but that it was too early to draw any conclusions.

He said controllers observed the plane beginning to descend and tried to get back in contact with the pilots but without success.

The second black box - the flight data recorder - has not yet been found.

The older Ms Selke was employed by Booz Allen Hamilton as a contractor with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the Pentagon's satellite mapping office.

"Yvonne was a wonderful co-worker and a dedicated employee who spent her career with the firm," Booz Allen's chief personnel officer, Betty Thompson, said in a statement.

Drexel University said in a statement that Emily Selke graduated with honours in 2013 and was a music industry major.

Her sorority, Gamma Sigma Sigma, said in a statement on its Facebook page it was moruning the loss of Selke, who "always put others before herself and cared deeply for all those in her life".

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionRescue workers are continuing their extensive operation today

Footage shot from a helicopter on Tuesday showed plane parts scattered on the rocky mountainside.

"The site is a picture of horror," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after being flown over the crash site.

Germanwings chief executive Thomas Winkelmann said 72 Germans were amongst the dead, although the list was being constantly updated.

The Spanish government has raised the number of known Spanish victims in the crash from 49 to at least 51.

Additionally, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed that three Britons were on board. The flight was also carrying citizens of the Australia, Japan, Colombia, Turkey, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium.

image copyrightAP
image captionCockpit Voice Recorder of flight 4U9525

Key points

  • Weather reportedly good when A320 Airbus came down
  • Plane descended rapidly but sent out no distress signal
  • White House says no suspicion of terrorism
image copyrightGetty Images
image captionPupils at the school in Haltern-am-See, Germany, are being offered counselling

Bereaved relatives are expected to visit the scene on Wednesday. The mayor of Seyne-les-Alpes, the town nearest the crash site, said local families were offering to host them.

The German victims included 16 pupils returning from an exchange trip.

A day of mourning is being held at the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium school in Haltern-am-See, north-west Germany, where the pupils studied.

The BBC's Tom Burridge says they listened to a German song which their friends had played to them and a Catalan poem was read out.

Germanwings, a low-cost airline owned by Germany's main carrier Lufthansa, said some crew members were unfit for service on Wednesday "due to emotional distress".

It said one flight was being cancelled but remaining flights would be according to schedule.

Lufthansa and Germanwings staff held a minute's silence on Wednesday morning.