As authorities try to figure out why a Germanwings plane went down in the French Alps—there was no distress call before the pilot's eight-minute descent, reports the AP—details are emerging about some of the 150 people aboard who are now presumed dead. That includes 16 kids, all about age 15, who were returning to Germany from a weeklong exchange program in Spain, reports Reuters. They and their two teachers were from the small community of Haltern am See in western Germany, where, as the New York Times notes, many people either knew the victims or were related to them.
“This is the darkest day in the history of our city," says Mayor Bodo Klimpel, who was fighting back tears at a news conference. "A feeling of shock can be felt everywhere. It is about the worst thing imaginable." The mayor of Llinars del Valles, where the teens stayed in Spain, says his "whole village is distraught" as well. "The families knew each other," he says. "The parents had been to see them off at 6 this morning." Also on board were two opera singers, Maria Radner and Oleg Bryjak, who were returning from a performance together. Radner was with her husband and baby, and another baby was reportedly killed in the crash.