WWII vintage plane crash in Switzerland, 20 dead

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All 20 people on board a vintage plane were killed when the aircraft crashed into a mountainside in south-east Switzerland, police said.

Police said that all 20 people on board the plane, including its three crew members, died. It was flying a group of 14 Swiss nationals and a three-member family from Austria on a sightseeing tour for the company JU-AIR.

Ju-Air's Ju-52 planes are former Swiss military aircraft, built in 1939, that were retired by the air force in 1981.

Police said the plane hit the western side of the mountain Piz Segna (top picture) at about 2,540 meters (8,333 feet) above sea level on Saturday.

According to German-language newspaper Blick, the flight had taken off from Ticino in the south of the country and had been due to land at the Duebendorf military airfield near Zurich on Saturday afternoon.

The plane had been returning from Locarno near Switzerland's southern border.

Knecht said officials expect the investigation of the cause to be "relatively complex, because we have to compare various indications, information and evidence and evaluate them".

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Twenty emergency workers were still at the crash site 24 hours after it happened, with helicopters hovering above for hours.

"One can ascertain that the aircraft hit the ground almost vertically at high speed", Daniel Knecht, who heads the aviation division of the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board, said.

He said officials have essentially ruled out a collision with another aircraft or hitting an obstacle such as a wire.

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.

He added that the flight had an experienced flight crew of two pilots and one assistant aboard, all in their 60s. The plane holds 17 passengers, two pilots and a flight attendant.

The company's flight operations were suspended, it said.

Junkers JU-52 planes were manufactured between the 1930s and 1950s.