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AKIPRESS.COM - Determining why a vintage plane crashed in the Swiss Alps will be challenging since the 79-year-old aircraft did not have black boxes and was traveling in an area without frequent radar readings when it plunged into a mountain, killing all 20 of the people on board, investigators said Sunday.
The Junkers Ju-52 plane, operated by Swiss company Ju-Air, moved at a near-vertical angle before it hit the Piz Segnas mountain while carrying 17 passengers and three crew members, police and the head of the country's transportation safety agency said, CBS News reported.
The victims were 11 men and nine women between the ages of 42 and 84 -- seven couples from various parts of Switzerland, a couple from neighboring Austria and their son, and the three crew members. Their names were not released.
"Yesterday was the worst day in the 36-year history of JU-Air," the airline's CEO Kurt Waldmeier said Sunday, the Reuters news agency reports. "We have all suffered a very great loss."
The fully booked propeller plane, built in 1939 and retired by Switzerland's air force in 1981, was flying the passengers back to its base at Duebendorf, near Zurich, from a two-day trip to the Italian-speaking Ticino region. It crashed shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday, less than 50 minutes after taking off from Locarno's Magadino airfield.
The plane had two pilots. Police said they have not found any evidence a distress call was made before it crashed.