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Town flocks to mourn lost schoolchildren

Town flocks to mourn lost schoolchildren
A black ribbon on a sign in Haltern, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

President Joachim Gauck arrived in Haltern on Friday to join families and schoolchildren mourning the loss of their classmates and teachers in the Germanwings flight 4U9525 crash.

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The President, who cut short a tour of South America to return to Germany, is attending a memorial service for the victims of the crash.

"As we are standing together, we are creating a precious bond of compassion and of mourning together," Gauck told reporters. "I wanted to mourn with them... I could hear the sobbing of children and families."

The Joseph König Gymnasium (secondary school) in Haltern, North Rhine-Westphalia, lost 16 pupils and two teachers returning from a language exchange in Spain on the flight.

Meanwhile, the Bundesrat, Germany's upper house of parliament, held a minute of silence for those killed on Tuesday.

“We are deeply affected and shocked by this tragic accident,” Hesse minister-president Volker Bouffier said.

“We can't alleviate the pain of the relatives and friends, but we are with them in our thoughts and empathise with them.”

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