Switzerland: WWII plane crash kills 20 during Swiss Alps tour

Arturo Kim
August 5, 2018

All 20 people on board a vintage plane were killed when the aircraft crashed into a mountainside in south-east Switzerland, police said.

The Junkers Ju-52 plane, operated by the Swiss company Ju-Air, went down Saturday on the Piz Segnas mountain above the Alpine resort of Flims, striking the mountain's western flank about 2,540 meters (8,330 feet) above sea level.

The aircraft was in possession of JU-Air, a company with links to the Swiss Air Force.

"We can assume that the aircraft hit the ground near-vertically and at relatively high speed", Daniel Knecht of the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board said at a news conference in Flims.

JU-Air CEO Kurt Waldmeier told reporters that the plane had undergone a maintenance inspection in July.

"What we can rule out at this point is that there had been a collision before the crash, neither with another aircraft nor with some other obstacle such as a cable".

He added that the flight had an experienced flight crew of two pilots and one assistant aboard, all in their 60s.

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The company's flight operations were suspended, it said.

Almost 5,000 Ju-52 planes were manufactured between 1932 and 1952.

Each of the pilots flying it had over 30 years of experience in both the military and civilian sector.

The Junker JU52 is made of corrugated steel and was built by the German firm Junkers from the 1930s to 1950s.

"The JU-Air team is deeply saddened and is thinking of the passengers, the crew and families and friends of the victims", JU-Air wrote in a statement on its website Sunday.

The aircraft have three engines, one on the nose and one on each wing.

Earlier on Saturday, a small plane carrying a family of four, including two young children, crashed near the town of Hergiswil, some 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) south of Lucerne in central Switzerland. No survivors have been found in that incident.

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