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Families speak of devastating loss

The families of three Britons killed in the French Alps plane disaster have spoken of their devastating loss.

Those who died in the Germanwings' Airbus A320 crash included seven-month-old Julian Pracz-Bandres from Manchester who was killed alongside his mother Marina Bandres Lopez Belio, 37, originally from Spain.

Another of the Britons to lose their lives was senior quality manager Martyn Matthews, 50, from Wolverhampton who worked at Tipton in the West Midlands.

A third Briton on the Barcelona to Dusseldorf flight was Paul Andrew Bramley, 28, who was originally from Hull and was studying hotel management in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Announcing that three Britons had died, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: "We cannot rule out the possibility that there are further British people involved.

"The level of information on the flight manifest doesn't allow us to rule out that possibility until we've completed some further checks."

In the Commons, Prime Minister David Cameron offered his "deepest condolences" to those who had lost loved ones in the crash.

Ms Bandres Lopez Belio's husband Pawel Pracz said she had been visiting her family in Spain for her uncle's funeral and bought the tickets at the last moment.

He said in a statement released by the Foreign Office (FO): "I'm with my closest family in Manchester, and in close contact with our family in Spain at this very difficult time.

"We are devastated and would like to request that we be allowed to grieve in peace as a family without intrusion at this difficult time."

The FO issued a statement on behalf of Mr Bramley's family.

It said: " Paul was originally from Hull. He was studying hospitality and hotel management at Ceasar Ritz College in Lucerne and about to start an internship on April 1.

"Paul had just finished his first year at the college and had taken a few days holiday with friends in Barcelona, before flying back to the UK via Dusseldorf to meet his family."

Mr Bramley's mother, Carol, lives in Majorca and is currently in the UK, having flown over to meet him.

She said: "Paul was a kind, caring and loving son. He was the best son, he was my world."

Mr Bramley's father, Philip, who lives in Hull, said they are both deeply shocked and will miss him.

Ms Bandres Lopez Belio had been living in Manchester for seven years with Mr Pracz, both working in the film and video industry.

Mr Matthews had two grown-up children and his work at Tipton was for German automotive manufacturer Huf. He is thought to have been travelling to Germany for a business meeting.

The FO issued a statement on behalf of the family of Mr Matthews.

The family said: "We are devastated at the news of this tragic incident and request that we are allowed to deal with this terrible news without intrusion at this difficult time."

In the Commons Mr Cameron said: "It is heart-breaking to hear about the schoolchildren, the babies, the families whose lives have been brought to an end.

"The Foreign Office is working urgently to establish whether any further British nationals were among those on board."

The three Britons were among 150 on the Airbus plane to have lost their lives.

Today, as investigators studied the contents of the damaged black box cockpit voice recorder from the aircraft, Germanwings's parent company Lufthansa said there had been nothing wrong with the plane.

After Germanwings staff tearfully observed a one-minute silence in Cologne for those who had been killed, the airline announced that the dead came from at least 13 countries.

While some nationalities were still to be verified, Germanwings said the dead included 72 Germans, 35 Spaniards and two Australians. Two Americans are also known to have been on the plane

Other countries with passengers on the flight included Iran, Israel, Japan, Denmark, Belgium and Colombia.

Among the passengers were two German opera singers - Dusseldorf-born contralto Maria Radner and bass baritone Oleg Bryjak, who was born in Kazakhstan.

Also on the flight were 16 pupils from Joseph Konig school in Haltern am See in western Germany who were flying home after a week-long exchange with students at a school near Barcelona.

Joseph Konig's headmaster Ulrich Wessel said today he was "shell-shocked and speechless".

Investigators will be trying to work out why there was no distress call from the plane which went into a slow descent even though it was in a mountainous area.

Theories include the complete incapacity of the cockpit crew, possibly after a windscreen blow-out.

Lufthansa said: " We cannot comprehend how a technically flawless airplane steered by two experienced pilots could encounter such a situation at cruising altitude.

"All of us at Lufthansa are working to ensure that such an incident will never occur again. We cannot believe that this has happened. We are doing everything to support the families."

French president Francois Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy all spoke of their sorrow at a joint media conference in southern France .

A spokesman for the French air investigation bureau, the BEA, said that "usable" material had been extracted from the black box cockpit voice recorder found at the crash site.

He said it covered the entire flight but would not say what conversations, if any, between the pilots had been captured on the recording, nor what language they had been conducted in.

Asked about reports that the second black box - the flight data recorder which indicates how an aircraft's systems were working - had been found but was too badly damaged to be of use, the spokesman said this was not the case.

"We have not located the second black box," he said.

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