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[LE VERNET, France] Hundreds of TV crews are crowding small French towns in the Alps nearest the crash site of a German airliner in a testament to the global reach of the tragedy.
The arrival of reporters from across the world reflected the diverse nationalities of the 150 victims from the Germanwings flight.
It also spoke of the mystery as to what caused the crash, and the widespread dread and fascination of aviation disasters.
But with the crash site itself inaccessible, far from roads or paths, the lenses of the news crews were left Wednesday to follow the police helicopters flying back and forth - and to mass around the slightest briefing by officials.
The whole thing was "almost a circus," said Lara Marlowe, correspondent for The Irish Times newspaper.
"You struggle to keep in mind the scale of the human tragedy," she said.
Ritva Roennberg, of Sweden's TV4 News, said reporters giving regular live accounts to viewers had to rely on snippets about the progress of the recovery operation, or what officials were saying about the families arriving near the zone but being kept out of sight.
At times the filtering of the information was even frustrating foreign officials.
Two diplomats from Japan - which lost two nationals in the crash - approached an AFP journalist for information about the expedition of French soldiers on foot to the crash site to search for the "black box" flight data recorder. Police officers did not respond to their questions, referring them to difficult to locate superiors.
Locals stressed they were united in wanting to help the families of those killed in the crash, if they chose to visit the area.
"They have to be supported. We have ordered flowers for them," said Josephine Balique, a 19-year-old student in Le Vernet, the village closest to the scene.
"If anybody wants to walk in a field here, alone or with one of us, we're here to help."
But for the relatives, too, climbing up to the area where the plane shattered across a mountain was impossible, Ms Balique said.
"It's inaccessible. There are no paths. The only people who ever go there are hunters. It's slippery and super dangerous."