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Germanwings CEO: Crash Victims From 15 Countries, Including 2 From U.S.

A rescue helicopter flies Wednesday near the town of Seyne-les-Alpes, France, to search for the 150 victims who died in a Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps.

Updated at 8:47 a.m.

Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann says the 150 victims of Flight 4U 9525 were from at least 15 countries around the world, including two from the U.S.

At a news conference, Winkelmann said the victims included 72 Germans, 35 Spaniards, two each from Australia, Argentina, Iran, Venezuela and the United States, and one each from Britain, the Netherlands, Colombia, Mexico, Japan, Denmark, Belgium, and Israel. He said some of the victims had dual nationalities and that made establishing their nationalities difficult.

We should note here that those numbers will likely change. Spanish Interior Minister Francisco Martinez said there were 49 Spaniards aboard the flight that crashed Tuesday in the French Alps, en route to Duesseldorf, Germany, from Barcelona, Spain. Earlier, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said there were at least three Britons among the victims. British Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament "three British nationals have been identified."

On Tuesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "We are currently reviewing whether any U.S. citizens were aboard the flight."

And as we told you earlier today, the victims included two opera singers. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that an Israeli citizen who lived in Spain was among the victims. And the passengers also included two babies, 16 German high schoolers and their two teachers.

Here's what else we know this morning about the jetliner that crashed into a mountainside in the French Alps.

-- French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says the cockpit voice recorder from Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 is damaged, but could still tell us why the plane went down. Segolene Royale, France's energy minister, said the key to the investigation was what happened in the two-minute span that began at 10:30 a.m. local time Tuesday. That's when the plane began to descend after reaching cruising altitude. And Transportation Minister Alain Vidalies told Europe 1 radio that investigators will focus "on the human voices, the conversations" on the voice recorder, followed by the cockpit sounds.

-- Cazeneuve reiterated today that it was unlikely the plane was blown up.

"Every theory must be considered while the inquiry goes on," he said. "An explosion is not the No. 1 suspected cause because the debris from the plane is concentrated in an area of about 1 1/2 hectares. It's certainly a wide area because of the violence of the impact, but it shows that the plane probably didn't blow up."

-- Ground crews are slowly making their way through new snow and rain to the scene to recover the bodies of the victims on the flight, which had been traveling from Barcelona, Spain, to Duesseldorf, Germany.

-- Francis Hermitte, the mayor of Seyne-les-Alpes, a town close to the site of the crash, says families are expected to arrive at the town today. The leaders of France, Germany and Spain will meet them there, he said.

-- Employees of Germanwings and Lufthansa, the low-cost carrier's parent company, will hold a minute of silence at 10:53 a.m. today, Lufthansa said. That's when the contact with the flight was lost.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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