UPDATED: Authorities confirm 20 dead in vintage Junkers crash

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August 06, 2018
Junkers crash Swiss Alps
One of the JU-AIR Junkers. Photo:JU-AIR website

Swiss authorities have confirmed 20 people died when a vintage Junkers Ju-52 plane crashed into a mountain in the Swiss Alps.

The JU-AIR Junkers Ju-52 was flying from Locarno to Dubendorf on Saturday carrying 17 passengers and three crew.

A Swiss transport safety investigation board spokesman told reporters on Sunday the plane plunged almost vertically at high speed before it struck a mountainside.

JU-AIR is based near Dubendorf and offers people the opportunity to fly on sightseeing or charter tours in its three Ju-52 aircraft.

The crashed plane was built in 1939 but was regularly checked because of its age. Its 62-year-old captain was a veteran of Swissair who had been flying the Junkers since 2004.

JU-AIR said on its website that it had suspended operations until further notice.

“The JU-AIR team is deeply saddened and thinks of the passengers, the crew and families and friends of the victims,” it said.

 

Local Police police said on Twitter that the aircraft crashed at Piz Segnas, a mountain in the canton at Graubueden and five helicopters had been sent to the crash site.

The wreckage is at a height of  2450m (8038ft) on the western side of the mountain and The Aviation Herald website said airspace restrictions were in place to protect the search and recovery operation

“Ground observers watched the aircraft flying in the area over Obersaxen (Switzerland) south of Piz Segnas and estimated they were flying at 11,000 feet,’’ the website said.

The junkers is a German tri-motor transport aircraft that flew with the Luftwaffe during World War II and was manufactured between 1931 and 1952.

Affectionately known as Auntie Ju, it continued in service into the 1980s and flew post-war with a number of airlines, including Swissair and Lufthansa.

The Swiss accident is the second vintage plane to crash within a month

A  vintage Convair plane crashed near Pretoria on July 10 in South Africa, injuring 19 passengers and crew.

READ: Chilling video from inside the Convair crash.

Three Australians were seriously injured and one crew member was killed as well as a worker in a factory hit by the plane.

The aircraft with 20 passengers and crew on board had been donated by the owner, Rovos Air, to the Dutch aviation theme park Aviodrome. It was seen trailing smoke from one engine prior to the crash.