Tourist plane crashes in Swiss Alps, 20 dead

Alps plane crash: 20 feared dead after sightseeing flight smashes into mountain | Daily Star

Twenty people died when a vintage World War II aircraft crashed into a Swiss mountain at the weekend, police said Sunday, as an investigation was launched into why the plane plummeted straight down at high speed.

"The police have the sad certainty that the 20 people aboard perished", police spokeswoman Anita Senti told a news conference.

The Junker Ju-52 aircraft smashed into a mountainside near the resort of Flims in the east of the country on Saturday.

Among those killed were 17 people from Switzerland and a three-person family from Austria.

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

Police in southeastern Graubuenden canton (state) said a several-seater plane crashed Saturday on the Piz Segnas mountain striking the mountain's western flank about 2,540 meters above sea level.

Officials can essentially rule out a collision with another aircraft or hitting an obstacle such as a wire, and there's no indication of foul play or that the aircraft lost parts or broke up before the crash, he added.

Investigators said that it could take time to determine the cause of the crash because the aircraft was so old.

The area around the crash site, which is popular with hikers and skiers and includes a glacier, was closed to the public.

JU-Air says it runs a small fleet of four Junker planes, all built in 1939, which are for hire. The heat makes air thinner, increasing the burden on the aircraft.

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

It said it was suspending flights until further notice. "The JU-Air team is deeply saddened and thinks of the passengers, the crew and families and friends of the victims", the company said in a statement on its website.

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