Germanwings crash: Spain investigates malicious Tweets

Maria Radner as first norn performs during a dress rehearsal for Richard Wagner's opera "Goetterdaemmerung" which is part of the Salzburg Easter Festival in Salzburg, Austria. (AP)

The Spanish government said on Wednesday it was hunting for the authors of malicious jokes on Twitter about the victims of the air crash in the French Alps.

"If they were all Germans and Catalans, what is the tragedy?" wrote one user, flagging the Tweet with the hashtag #Germanwings.

"It is not the first time the social networks are used for hate speech," which is punishable under Spain's penal code, said junior security minister Francisco Martinez.

"The interior ministry has ordered an investigation to establish possible criminal responsibility for messages posted on social networks," he told a news conference.

"As well as expressing tremendous cruelty, they may constitute crimes which will have to be investigated and referred to the justice system."

Many of the messages appeared to target Catalans, inhabitants of the culturally distinct Catalonia region and regular targets for teasing in the rest of Spain.

The plane took off from Barcelona, capital of Catalonia, before it crashed in southeastern France on Tuesday with the deaths of all 150 people on board.

The Spanish government said at least 49 Spaniards were among the victims but Germanwings, the airline operating the flight, said there had been 35 Spanish victims.

Spain's interior ministry launched a crackdown on online hate speech in May 2014 after the killing of a ruling party politician sparked many insults online against conservative politicians.

2 babies, 2 mums, 2 opera singers... dead

Jaca Mayor Victor Barrio said Marina Bandres had been attending a funeral in Jaca for a relative and was taken to the Barcelona airport by her father.

Bandres lived in Britain. Barrio did not know if her husband was on the flight with her and the boy, Julian, who was seven or eight months old.

The second baby on the flight that crashed on its way from Barcelona to Duesseldorf was the child of German opera singer Maria Radner and her husband, also on the flight.

The mayor of the small Spanish town of Jaca in the Pyrenees mountains says that a woman originally from the town died in the crash along with her baby boy.

Contralto Maria Radner, husband and baby; Bass baritone Oleg Bryjak

A Spanish opera house says a second singer, German contralto Maria Radner along with her husband and baby, were among the 150 victims of the plane crash in the French Alps.

An opera house in Duesseldorf says bass baritone Oleg Bryjak was among the 150 people onboard the plane that crashed in the French Alps.

The Deutsche Oper am Rhein said Bryjak was on his way back from Barcelona, where he had sung Alberich in Richard Wagner's 'Siegfried' at the Gran Teatre del Liceu.

Director Christoph Meyer said that "we have lost a great performer and a great person in Oleg Bryjak. We are stunned."

Germanwings cancels seven flights

Germanwings has had to cancel seven flights out of Dusseldorf because a number of crew members felt they were unfit to fly following news of the accident.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said Tuesday evening that he understood the crew members' sentiments.

"One must not forget: many of our Germanwings crews have known crew members who were onboard the crashed plane," Spohr said.

"It is now more important to ensure psychological assistance if needed. And we will get back to a full flight operation as soon as possible then. But for me, this is rather secondary now," he added.

Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr

Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr says initial information about the cause of the plane crash over the French Alps, which killed all 150 people onboard, should be available "relatively quickly."

Spohr expressed satisfaction that authorities had found the first black box from the Germanwings plane that crashed on its way from Barcelona to Duesseldorf and said he would not speculate on the cause of the crash until its data had been analyzed.

Spohr told Germany's ARD television the firm and investigators would "try to find out and then understand how this blackest day of our company's 60-year history could happen."

Germanwings is a low-cost carrier owned by Lufthansa.

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