Officials have resumed the search and recovery operation in the Southern Alps after a Gernmanwings plane crashed on Tuesday carrying 150 people as French investigators examine the black box cockpit voice recorder (CVR)
They have warned that the operation could last for days in a remote mountain ravine between Digne and Barcelonnette.
The Airbus A320 – flight 4U 9525 – from Barcelona to Duesseldorf crashed after an eight-minute rapid descent. There were no survivors.
Officials believe 67 of those aboard the plane were German citizens, including 16 pupils returning from an exchange trip.
The officials say 45 of the passengers had Spanish names.
Investigators said they were puzzled as to why the crew did not send out a distress signal as flight U49525 rapidly lost altitude for eight minutes, or why the pilot did not change course to avoid smashing into a rocky ravine at around 430mph (700kmh).
The flight was also carrying citizens of Australia, Turkey, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium. UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said it was “sadly likely” that some British nationals were on board.
Unconfirmed reports from plane-tracking websites appeared to rule out an explosion or a mid-air stall, both of which would cause a much faster descent.
Experts said planes such as the Airbus would be able to glide for some distance in the case of total engine failure.