French President Francois Hollande said it is likely there are no survivors in the Alpine crash of a passenger jet carrying 148 people.
The Airbus plane operated by Lufthansa's Germanwings budget airline crashed in southern France on Tuesday en route from Barcelona to Duesseldorf, police and aviation officials said.
Citing aviation officials, the local La Provence newspaper said the Airbus A320 was carrying 142 passengers, two pilots and four cabin crew.
Eric Ciotti, the head of the regional council in southeast France, said search-and-rescue teams were headed to the crash site at Meolans-Revels, near the popular ski resort of Pra Loup.
The Germanwings Airbus A320 plane sent out a distress signal at 10:45 a.m. local time then crashed in a mountainous zone at an altitude of about 2,000 meters (6,550 feet), said Pierre-Henry Brandet, the French Interior Ministry spokesman.
Crash occurs in remote area
Brandet told BFM television that he expected "an extremely long and extremely difficult" search-and-rescue operation because of the area's remoteness. Authorities said debris from the plane had been spotted by helicopters.
Captain Benoit Zeisser of the Digne-le-Bains police said when the flight took off, there were some clouds, but the cloud ceiling was not low and there did not appear to be turbulence. He told the French network iTele he could not comment yet on the state of the debris site.
In a live briefing Tuesday, Hollande said the area of the crash was remote and it was not clear whether anyone on the ground had been hurt. Hollande said it was probable that a number of the victims are German.
"It's a tragedy on our soil,'' he said, adding he would be speaking shortly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Germanwings and Lufthansa were not immediately available for a comment. Airbus had no immediate comment.