|Tribute: A candle-lit vigil has been held at the Joseph-Konig-Gymnasium high school who lost 16 students and two teachers in a tragic plane crash in the alps|
Sixteen children and two teachers from the same school were among the 150 people believed to have perished on the Germanwings flight. The youngsters were returning from a nine-day exchange trip in Barcelona when the plane was lost in a remote region of the French Alps.
Last night it emerged the school children almost escaped death because one 15-year-old girl had left her passport behind. But in a tragic twist, her host family offered to race the girl and all her travel documents to the airport in Barcelona directly, allowing them all to get on the flight in time.
|Horror: The students and teachers were among the 150 to die when the Germanwings Airbus A320 flight crashed into the French Alps|
|Tragic: In emotional scenes in Haltern-am-See this afternoon, schoolmates of those killed in the air disaster were seen comforting one another and embracing and they laid flowers at the school gates|
|Vigil: This evening, students of the Josef-Koenig-Gymnasium high school have been lighting candles to remember their six German schoolmates and two teachers who died in a tragic plane crash|
|Victim: An opera house in Dusseldorf has said Oleg Bryjak was among the 150 people on board the doomed flight having performed in Richard Wagner's Siegfried in Barcelona|
|Deceased: Austrian opera singer Maria Radner was on the Germanwings Airbus A320 flight with her husband and baby when it crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board|
|Remembrance: A beautiful vigil was left outside the school while others changed their Facebook cover photos to black, with the message 'Haltern mourns'|
|Vigil: Candles were lit for the Year 10 pupils who were returning from a week-long foreign exchange in Spain when their plane crashed somewhere in the French Alps|
|Heart-broken: Some schoolchildren hugged and cried in front of the Joseph Koenig High School, where their deceased classmates had studied|
|Lost friends: School children mourn for their dead school mates in front of the Joseph-Koenig Gymnasium this afternoon|
|Grief: Pupils mourn in front of the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium college in Haltern-am-See this afternoon|
|Bereaved: An emergency counselor stands next to candles and flowers laid in front of Joseph-Koenig school|
The pupils were from the Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium school in Western Germany, an English-speaking grammar. At Dusseldorf Airport yesterday parents who had expected to welcome their children home were in tears as news of the horrifying crash began to break. The distressed families were ushered into private rooms at the airport by the police and representatives of Germanwings, where they were offered counselling.
Several distraught family members were expected to be flown out to the Alps last night – while Angela Merkel prepared for a visit to the crash site herself, which is expected to take place today. The German students had spent over a week with the families of Spanish children who attend the Giola institute in Llinars del Valles, near Barcelona, to study the Spanish language. There were rumours that several of the students had missed the flight after one of them forgot her passport but hopes were subsequently dashed by Marti Pujol, the mayor of the Spanish village.
|'Never forgotten': Students attend a mass in Llinars del Valles - the town where the German exchange students who died in the Germanwings plane crash attended school near Barcelona|
|Dark day: As school children remember their fallen schoolmates with a candle-lit vigil, the town's mayor said: 'This is the blackest day in the history of Haltern-am-See, the blackest day I can imagine'|
|Tradition: German and Spanish students from the two towns have been doing such exchanges for at least 15 years and the Spanish students had spent time in Germany in December|
|Horrendous: 16 German teenagers and two teachers from the school were among the 150 dead in the crash of a passenger jet in the French Alps|
|Devastated: Children at the Joseph-Koenig secondary school who were initially sent home after hearing the heart-breaking news came back to pay their respects|
|Tribute: The returning students lit votive candles outside the school gates and one message addressed to a girl named Kati read: 'Gone but not forgotten, lost but always with us'|
|Heart-broken: Another student at the school told a local TV station: 'I lost a good friend on that plane, 15 years old, a beautiful girl with everything ahead of her. We are in bits here. We cannot take it in'|
|Paying respect: Members of the Lower Chamber of Spanish Parliament observe a minute of silence for the victims of the Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 plane crash|
The mayor revealed that the young girl had realised she left her passport behind after arriving at the train station with the rest of her companions to catch a train to Barcelona's El Prat airport. Children at the Giola Secondary School, where the exchange students were on exchange, spoke of their sorrow after hearing the news.
One, Anna Garcia, said: 'One of the German girls left a bag with all her travel documents inside at her host family's home. 'So they didn't hold the rest of the group up, the family took her to the airport and she was able to board the plane.' ‘Our German teacher is very affected by the news. He says he has to put on a brave face for the pupils’ sake but he is going through a very bad time.’
In emotional scenes in Haltern-am-See this afternoon, schoolmates of those killed in the disaster were seen comforting one another and embracing and they laid flowers at the school gates. 'Gone but not forgotten, lost but always with us. Our hearts are broken but you are forever in them,' read one to a girl called Kati. Another pupil called Ibrahim told a local TV station: 'I lost a good friend on that plane, 15 years old, a beautiful girl with everything ahead of her. We are in bits here. We cannot take it in.'
Memorial services are expected to take place at both the German and Spanish schools for the youngsters and their teachers this morning, and the Spanish government announced three days of national mourning. As messages of condolence flooded in from politicians and celebrities, national German football team player Benedikt Höwedes tweeted: ‘Our sympathies to the victims and their families of this tragic aircraft accident. Any one of us could have been sitting on board that plane.’
|Doomed: Maria Radner (pictured) had been traveling to her hometown Dusseldorf with her husband and baby after performing in Barcelona's Liceu for the very first time|
|Shared fate: She was performing Richard Wagner's Sigfried with fellow opera singer Oleg Bryjak (pictured)|
|In mourning: Students arrive at Joseph-Koenig-Gymnasium school in Haltern-am-See to pay their respects to their dead classmates|
|Police officers and members of staff stand guard outside Joseph-Koenig secondary school in Haltern am See|
|Two people look at candles in front of the Joseph-Koenig college in Haltern am See this afternoon|
SOURCE - Daily Mail