WWII vintage plane crashes into Swiss mountainside, 20 dead

Wreckage of the Junkers JU-52 aircraft courtesy of Grisons cantonal police.

Wreckage of the Junkers JU-52 aircraft courtesy of Grisons cantonal police. Full Credit Handout CANTONAL POLICE OF GRISONS EPA

It crashed into Piz Segnas, a 3,000-metre (10,000-foot) peak in the east of the country on Saturday at an altitude of 2,540 metres on the mountain's western flank, Senti said.

"Based on the situation at the crash site we can say that the aircraft smashed into ground nearly vertically at relatively high speed", said Daniel Knecht of the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board.

Twenty people are confirmed dead after a vintage World War II aircraft crashed into a Swiss mountainside, police reports said. Most were from Switzerland but also a couple and their son from Austria.

Just hours before the Ju-52 crash, a family of four was killed when their small plane went down in the Alps, but it was located further west.

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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. Knecht said authorities would probably need "a few days" to complete recovery work. The heat makes air thinner, increasing the burden on the aircraft.

The JU-Air airline operated three of the vintage planes - decommissioned by the Swiss Air Force and affectionately known as "Auntie Ju" planes - as part of sightseeing tours, Reuters reported.

The company's flight operations were suspended, it said. The plane holds 17 passengers, two pilots and a flight attendant.

They were produced in Germany between 1932 and 1952, serving both as passenger and military planes.

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Each of the pilots flying it had over 30 years of experience in both the military and civilian sector. We can not guarantee that it is suitable for the visually or hearing impaired.

A brochure on the company's website listed the cost of the 2-day Locarno trip as 1,130 francs ($1,136), including meals and a night in a hotel.

It said it was suspending flights until further notice.

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