Published: Sun, August 05, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Twenty killed in plane crash in Swiss Alps

Twenty killed in plane crash in Swiss Alps

Police have confirmed the crash, saying in a tweet that it occurred on the western side of the mountain Piz Segna (top picture) at about 2,540 meters (8,333 feet) above sea level on Saturday.

Swiss media have been citing plane experts' speculations that the current heat wave may have contributed to the crashes.

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

A witness told Reuters the plane wreckage was in a basin.

Police had not provided an official toll by late Sunday morning, but said that five helicopters were involved in a search and rescue mission and the airspace over the crash site was to remain closed until late Sunday.

There were 11 men and nine women aboard, including an Austrian couple and their son, she said.

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"Yesterday was the worst day in the 36-year history of JU-Air", the airline's Chief Executive Kurt Waldmeier said at a news conference in nearby Flims on Sunday. They also expect the investigation into the cause of the crash to be "relatively complex".

Daniel Knecht, of the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board, said the plane appears to have hit the ground near-vertically and at high speed in the crash.

The area, which includes a glacier, is popular with hikers. Its pilots are ex-military and professional pilots, all of them volunteers.

The plane that crashed had logged 10,187 hours of flying time, he said, adding that it underwent maintenance after every 35 hours of flight - most recently at the end of July.

Based out of Duebendorf in canton Zurich, JU-AIR offers sightseeing and adventure flights around the Alps.

Operator JU-Air has now suspended all flights until further notice.

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