Tourist plane crashes in Swiss Alps, 20 dead

The plane crashed in a forest near Hergiswil

The mid-century plane, a Junkers JU-52, crashed in the Piz Segnas mountain range, near the Austrian border.

"The police have the sad certainty that the 20 people aboard perished", police spokeswoman Anita Senti told a news conference.

The plane, which was on a flight between Locarno in southern Switzerland, to Dübendorf, a suburb of Zurich, was found about 2,540 meters (8,333 feet) above sea level.

Swiss officials said they are not aware of any distress call from the plane.

Knecht also said the 79-year-old plane was most likely not equipped with crash-resistant data recorders that more modern aircraft have.

The plane was built in 1939 and can carry up to 17 passengers and three crew members.

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.

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Ju-Air said one of its aircraft had been involved in the accident on Saturday. The heat makes air thinner, increasing the burden on the aircraft.

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.

The plane that crashed had logged 10,187 hours of flying time, he said, adding that it underwent maintenance after every 35 hours of flight - most recently at the end of July. Its pilots are ex-military and professional pilots, all of them volunteers.

Operator JU-Air said it was saddened by the news and it had set up a helpline for relatives.

"We can not yet explain what led to the tragic accident on Piz Segnas", he said.

JU-Air runs sightseeing tours on its squadron of German-made vintage aircraft.

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