20 dead after vintage military plane crashes in Swiss Alps

20 dead after vintage military plane crashes in Swiss Alps

Eleven men and nine women were killed, officials said.

Among those killed were 17 people from Switzerland and three people from an Austrian family, including a couple and their son.

Police said that the aircraft had burned and officials haven't yet been able to ascertain the exact number and identity of those who died.

"We can assume that the aircraft hit the ground near-vertically and at relatively high speed", Daniel Knecht of the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board said at a news conference in Flims.

Initial investigation showed the plane did not lose any parts or break up before it crashed in the Swiss Alps.

Knech also ruled out the idea that the plane had hit an object, such as a cable or another aircraft. There also was no indication of any "external influence", he said, indicating that authorities don't suspect foul play.

The wreckage of the plane was in a basin at 2,450 metres (8,000 feet) above sea level surrounded on three sides by peaks, a Reuters witness said.

Swiss reports said the passengers were returning from Locarno, a holiday spot in southern Switzerland on Lake Maggiore, where they had arrived early Friday.

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. The heat makes air thinner, increasing the burden on the aircraft.

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

Ju-Air started operating flights with the old-timers in 1983, and the plane that crashed - with the registration HB-HOT - had been in service with the company since 1985. We can not guarantee that it is suitable for the visually or hearing impaired.

JU-Air runs sightseeing tours on its squadron of German-made vintage aircraft from Dübendorf military airfield near Zurich. The airline suspended flights until further notice.

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