Recovery teams are set to resume work in the Alps as investigators work to establish what caused a packed plane to smash into mountains, killing all 150 people on board.

All passengers and crew on the jet are thought to have died after it plummeted into a remote area and “disintegrated”.

Recovery teams have been flown in by helicopter and one of the black box flight recorders – crucial in piecing together what happened – has been found.

A number of British nationals are thought to have been on board the Germanwings aircraft which crashed in the French Alps, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said.

The Airbus A320 plane was en route from Barcelona in Spain, to Dusseldorf, Germany, when it came down on Tuesday morning less than an hour into its flight at Meolans-Revels, between Barcelonnette and Digne.

A total of 144 passengers, including two babies, as well as two pilots and four cabin crew were on board the 24-year-old jet, operated by Lufthansa’s budget airline.

Officials said flight 4U 9525, which took off at 10.01am (9.01am UK time), had started descending one minute after reaching its cruising height.

It then plummeted from 38,000ft to 6,800ft in eight minutes before crashing.

French aviation authorities said the plane did not issue a distress call and had lost radio contact with air traffic controllers at 10.53am.