Swiss vintage plane crash 'kills all 20 people on board'

Junkers crash Swiss Alps

Police of Graubünden canton confirmed on Sunday that a several-seater plane crashed on the Piz Segnas mountain above the Swiss Alpine resort of Flims.

The plane was flying the passengers back from a two-day trip to Locarno in southern Switzerland to its base at Duebendorf, near Zurich.

The 20 Minutes newspaper quoted a witness who was on the mountainside at the time of the crash.

Nidwalden canton (state) police said that the aircraft went down near the town of Hergiswil today morning.

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the accident.

The plane appears to have hit the ground near-vertically and at "relatively high speed", according to Daniel Knecht of the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board. He said hot weather conditions did not contribute to the crash. 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.

JU-Air CEO Kurt Waldmeier told reporters that the plane had undergone maintenance inspection in July.

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

The Ju-52 aircraft, made by Germany's Junkers, were made between 1932 and 1952. Its pilots are ex-military and professional pilots, all of them volunteers.

Swiss media have been citing plane experts' speculations that the current heat wave may have contributed to the crashes. No survivors have been found.

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