A vintage Swiss military plane has crashed into a mountain in the Swiss Alps, killing all 20 people on board, reports The Guardian. The JU-52 HB-HOT aircraft, which was constructed in 1939, was flying from Locarno, near Switzerland’s southern border, to airline JU-Air’s base in Dübendorf, a suburb of Zurich.
It crashed into the western peak of Piz Segnas, a 10,000-foot mountain above the resort of Flims, in the south-east of the country, shortly before 5 pm local time on Saturday, at 8,333-feet. The victims – 11 men and nine women, aged from 42 to 84, including two pilots and a flight attendant – were all Swiss, apart from an Austrian couple and their son.
At a news conference in Flims on Sunday, Kurt Waldmeier, the chief executive of the airline, said: “Yesterday was the worst day in the 36-year history of JU-Air. We have all suffered a very great loss.”
Police said they were not aware of any distress call and had not yet determined the cause of the crash, which occurred hours after a family of four was killed when their small plane went down further west in the Alps. The crash occurred in an area popular with hikers and skiers that includes a glacier. Daniel Knecht of the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board said the plane appeared to have hit the ground “nearly vertically at high speed”.
Authorities were informed of the crash 50 minutes after the aircraft had taken off from Locarno’s Magadino airfield. Five helicopters were deployed in a search and rescue mission. The Federal Office of Civil Aviation closed the airspace above the crash site and access to popular hiking trails in the surrounding area was also blocked.