Vintage Plane Crashes in Switzerland, Killing All 20 Onboard

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The wreckage of the vintage small plane that crashed on Saturday in the Swiss Alps.CreditGraubünden POlice, via Associated Press

By Reuters

ZURICH — A small World War II-era plane crashed in the Swiss Alps this weekend, killing all 20 people onboard, the authorities in Switzerland said on Sunday.

The Swiss news website 20min.ch quoted a police spokeswoman, Anita Senti, as confirming that everyone onboard had been killed when the aircraft, a Junkers Ju-52 propeller plane, crashed into a mountainside near the Alpine resort of Flims on Saturday.

The plane was carrying 11 men and nine women, officials said, mostly from Switzerland, but they included a couple and their son from Austria.

The plane was operated by Ju-Air, a Swiss company that offers tours with vintage former Swiss military aircraft.

The crash on Saturday, which occurred hours after a family of four was killed when a small plane went down farther west in the Alps, was under investigation.

The authorities have provided few details about those onboard Ju-Air’s plane, which crashed on the west side of the Piz Segnas mountain in the canton of Graubünden on Saturday.

Local news media and aviation websites have reported that the plane, which seated 17 passengers along with two pilots and a flight attendant, was fully booked.

The police said that the crashed plane was Ju-Air’s Ju-52 HB-HOT aircraft, which aviation websites said was flying from Locarno near Switzerland’s southern border to the airline’s base in Dübendorf, a suburb of Zurich.

“The Ju-Air team is deeply saddened and is thinking of the passengers, the crew and families and friends of the victims,” the airline said on its website on Sunday.

Ju-Air was established in 1982 and offers sightseeing, charter and adventure flights with three midcentury Junkers Ju-52 aircraft decommissioned by the Swiss Air Force and known affectionately in German as “Auntie Ju” planes.

It said it was suspending flights until further notice.

The wreckage of the plane was in a basin at 2,450 meters (8,000 feet) above sea level surrounded on three sides by peaks, a Reuters witness said. Rescuers and helicopters were at the scene.

The airspace above the crash site was closed by the Federal Office for Civil Aviation and access to popular hiking trails in the surrounding area was blocked.

The police said on Twitter that five helicopters and a large rescue mission were deployed to the scene of the accident.

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