Twenty people killed in WWII vintage plane crash

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

The Junker Ju-52 struck the Piz Segnas mountain's western flank about 2,540 meters (8,330 feet) above sea level, killing 17 passengers and three crew members, police revealed in a press conference Sunday.

It left Locarno Air Base around 16h CET and was heading for the suburbs of Zurich when it crashed at an altitude of 2,540 metres.

Eleven men and nine women were killed.

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Photos released by Graubuenden canton (state) police showed the crumpled wreckage of the plane lying on the mountain, with only the upside-down tail more or less intact.

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.

The area, which includes a glacier, is popular with hikers. Most of the victims were Swiss but they also included a couple and their son from Austria.

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JU-52 HB-HOT aircraft does not have a crash-resistant cockpit voice and data recorders because it is an older model.

Collision with another aircraft and hitting an obstacle have been ruled out as a potential cause.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation. Its pilots are ex-military and professional pilots, all of them volunteers. 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.

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The company, which operates two other Ju-52s, suspended flights until further notice after the crash.

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