(CNN) – Latest developments:
– 1:07 p.m. ET: One of the black boxes of the downed Germanwings plane has been found, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday.
– 12:54 p.m. ET: The Germanwings plane is obliterated, with no piece of debris larger than a “small car,” said Gilbert Sauvan, the president of Alpes de Haute Provence region.
Sauvan, a high-level official who is being briefed on the operation, said that human remains are strewn for several hundred meters. Helicopters have flown over the crash site but have not been able to land.
Authorities may not be able to retrieve any bodies Tuesday, according to Sauvan, with the frozen ground complicating the effort. Wednesday may not be much easier, with snow in the forecast.
– 12:20 p.m. ET: There were 144 passengers (including two babies) and six crew members aboard Germanwings Flight 9525, an airline spokesperson said.
– 11:59 a.m.: Some 210 French people are working the scene around where Germanwings flight presumably crashed in the French Alps, according to a tweet from France’s Gendarmerie, or national police. Another 350 are on the way.
– 11:59 a.m.: Sylvia Loehrmann, a German education minister in a region that includes Haltern, said on German television she believes students and teachers were on board the doomed Germanwings flight.
“We can say with relative certainty that we have these victims,” Loehrmann said.
Florian Adamik, a municipal official in Haltern, earlier told CNN that 16 students and two teachers from one German high school — called Joseph Koenig Gymnasium — were booked on the flight.
A crisis center has been established at the city hall in Haltern, which is about 48 miles (77 kilometers) north of Duesseldorf’s airport.
– 11:47 a.m. German President Joachim Gauck is cutting short his trip in South America and will return to Berlin because of the Germanwings crash.
Now in Lima, Peru, Gauck expressed condolences to loved ones of the victims, saying, “I hope they find consolation in this difficult time.”
– 11:40 a.m. A chapel will be set up near the presumed crash site of Germanwings Flight 9525 for relatives of those who were on board, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
– 11:12 a.m.: Francis Hermitte, the mayor of France’s Seyne les Alpes, told CNN that he has not heard anything about a “moving body,” as a Spanish newspaper reported.
– 11:12 a.m. Michel Suhubiette, a mountain guide in France, said he heard a plane fly at alarmingly low altitude shortly before the crash.
By Tuesday afternoon, at least a dozen police, military and fire department helicopters were flying in and out of where the Germanwings plane is thought to have gone down, according to Suhubiette.
Helicopters would be the only way to get to the purported crash site, though getting there may be tough. Suhubiette said clouds were coming into the area, and bad weather is forecast for Wednesday.
– 10:30 a.m.: Air traffic controllers sent out a distress signal after controllers became concerned at the loss of radio contact with the doomed Germanwings plane and the speed of the plane’s descent, a spokesperson for the French civil aviation authority said. The crew of the plane did not issue a distress call before crashing in southern France, the spokesperson said.
– 10:20 a.m.: Those on Tuesday’s fallen Germanwings plane include 67 German citizens, but “this figure may change” when the passenger list is checked with relatives, according to airline CEO Thomas Winkelmann.
– 10:11 a.m.: The aircraft last had contact with French radar services at 10:53 a.m., according to the Germanwings executive. Germanwings Flight 9525 had left Barcelona airport at 10:01 a.m., the airport website said.
Winkelmann called Tuesday a “tragic, very sad day for Germanwings and also the whole Lufthansa family.”
The captain of the downed plane had flown for Germanwings for more than 10 years, and had more than 6,000 flight hours on this model of Airbus.
A Germanwings Airbus A320 plane crashed Tuesday in the foothills of the Alps in southeastern France with at least 150 people on board, according to Germanwings managing director Oliver Wagner.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told reporters he fears all those aboard the flight from Barcelona, Spain, to Dusseldorf, Germany. The plane crashed near Digne-les-Bains, in the Alpes de Haute Provence region, Valls said.
“The conditions of the accident are not yet clear but lead us to believe there will be no survivors,” Hollande said.
Spain’s King Felipe VI, who cut short a state visit to France as news of the crash broke, said there was a “high number of Spaniards, Germans and Turks” on the doomed Germanwings flight.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tweeted that he will return to Madrid, put together a “crisis team” and send a minister to France.
Relatives of those believed to be on the flight, fearing the worst, have started to gather at Barcelona airport, where a crisis center has been set up.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that “we don’t know much about the flight and the crash yet. And we don’t know the cause.”
Merkel said that she’s been in touch with France’s President and Spain’s Prime Minister, with all agreeing to “help each other in any form.”
There were “many” Germans on the plane, she told a news conference, adding that the suffering of the families concerned was “incredible.” “We have to think of the victims and their families and their friends,” she said.
Merkel said she was sending two ministers to France on Tuesday and would travel to the crash site on Wednesday to see it for herself.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the German government had set up a crisis center in response to the “terrible news” and was in close contact with the French authorities.
“In these difficult hours, our thoughts are with those who have to fear that their close ones are among the passengers and crew,” he said.