Chancellor Angela Merkel is visiting a high school in western Germany that lost 16 students and two teachers in the Germanwings plane crash in March.

Merkel was meeting students and relatives of the victims at the Joseph Koenig high school in Haltern. She laid a flower Tuesday at a steel plaque commemorating the 18 victims.

Principal Ulrich Wessel told ARD television before Merkel arrived that "even after seven months, it is very important to send a signal that the children have not been forgotten."

The teenagers and their teachers were on their way home from an exchange trip to Spain when Flight 9525 from Barcelona to Duesseldorf crashed into the French Alps on March 24, killing all 150 people aboard. Prosecutors believe the co-pilot intentionally crashed the plane.