GENEVA: Up to 20 people are feared dead after a vintage World War II aircraft crashed into a Swiss mountainside, local reports said today.
The Junker JU52 HB-HOT aircraft, built in Germany in 1939 and now a collectors’ item, belongs to JU-Air, a company with links to the Swiss air force, the ATS news agency reported. Police has called a news conference.
The Junker plane, which can carry up to 17 passengers and three crew, crashed into the Piz Segnas mountain in the east of the country on Saturday, at an altitude of around 2,500 meters (8,200 feet).
According to German-language newspaper Blick, the plane was full for the flight, suggesting that up to 20 people may be dead. The flight had taken off from Ticino in the south of the country, Blick added and had been due to land at the Duebendorf military airfield near Zurich on Saturday afternoon.
The 20 Minutes newspaper quoted a witness who was on the mountainside at the time of the crash. “The plane turned 180 degrees to the south and fell to the ground like a stone,” the witness said, adding that the debris was scattered over “a very small area,” indicating an explosion was unlikely the cause of the crash.
Police had not provided an official toll by late Sunday morning but said that five helicopters were involved in a search and rescue mission and the airspace over the crash site was to remain closed until late Sunday.
JU-Air said on its website that it was “deeply saddened” and its “thoughts were with the passengers, the crew and families, and friends of the victims”. The company’s flight operations were suspended, it said. JU-Air says it runs a small fleet of four Junker planes, all built in 1939, which are for hire. Its pilots are ex-military and professional pilots, all of them volunteers.
On its website, JU-Air mentions one past accident, in 1987, at the Koblenz airport in Germany in which nobody was hurt. In another Swiss plane crash on Saturday, a tourist plane carrying a couple and two young children crashed in a forest in the Nidwald canton and immediately burst into flames. No survivors have been found.
30 dead in Italy motorway bridge collapse ‘tragedy’
GENOA (Italy): About 30 people were killed on Tuesday when a giant motorway bridge collapsed in heavy rain in the Italian city of Genoa in what the government called an “immense tragedy”.
The collapse, which saw a vast stretch of the A10 freeway tumble on to railway lines in the northern port city, came as the bridge was undergoing maintenance work and as the Liguria region, where Genoa is situated, experienced torrential rainfall.
“Unfortunately there are around 30 dead and many injured in a serious condition,” Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told reporters.
Rescuers scouring through the wreckage, strewn among shrubland and train tracks, said there were “dozens” of victims, as rescue helicopters winched survivors on stretchers from the ruined bridge.
Cars and trucks were tangled in the rubble and nearby buildings damaged by vast chunks of concrete, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.
“We’re not giving up hope, we’ve already saved a dozen people from under the rubble,” a fire official, Emanuele Giffi, told the Media.
“We’re going to work round the clock until the last victim is secured.”
The incident — the deadliest of its kind in Europe since 2001 — is the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy, a country prone to damage from seismic activity but where infrastructure generally is showing the effects of a faltering economy.
Aerial footage showed more than 200 metres (650 feet) of the viaduct, known locally as the Morandi bridge, completely destroyed.
“I’m following with the utmost apprehension what is happening in Genoa and what looks like it could be an immense tragedy,” Transport and Infrastructure Minister Danilo Toninelli said on Twitter.
Salvini, who is also leader of the nationalist League party in a power-sharing government, vowed to hold those responsible for the disaster accountable.
“I have gone over this bridge hundreds of times, and I commit to digging and finding out who is responsible for an unacceptable tragedy, because it’s not possible that in 2018 you can work and die in these conditions,” he said.
The cause of the disaster was not immediately clear, although weather services in the Liguria region where Genoa is situated had issued a storm warning Tuesday morning.
The national motorways body said on its website that “maintenance works were being carried out on the base of the viaduct”, adding that a crane had been moved on site to assist the work.
Shares in Italian company Atlantia, which runs much of Italy’s motorway network including the collapsed stretch of the A10, closed the day down more than five percent at 23.54 euros.
The mayor of Nice, 200 kilometres (125 miles) west along the coast, said he had authorised firefighters in the French city to assist their counterparts in Genoa.
Genoa, home to half a million people, is located between the sea and the mountains of northwestern Italy.
Its rugged terrain means that motorways that run through the city and the surrounding area are characterised by long viaducts and tunnels.
The Morandi viaduct, completed in 1967, spans dozens of railway lines as well as an industrial zone housing several factories.
One factory, immediately next to one of the viaduct’s support columns, was virtually empty on Tuesday the day before a national holiday, and seems to have sustained minimal damage.
“I live nearby and I cross the bridge every day on foot,” said Ibou Toure, 23, a translator. “I was never sure of it, you’d always hear these noises whenever lorries were going over.
“When I heard it had collapsed, I wasn’t surprised.”
In March last year, a couple were killed when a motorway overpass collapsed on their car near Ancona on the country’s Adriatic coast.
A pensioner died in October 2016 when his car was crushed by a collapsing bridge over a dual carriageway between Milan and Lecco.
That incident was blamed on bureaucratic bungling which led to a fatal delay in the bridge being closed after it was reported to be showing significant cracks.
A relevant piece published earlier:
14th August: Pakistan’s flag hoisted at Bradford!
BRADFORD: Consul General, in presence of other guests, including the MP Bradford Imran Hussain and Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, has hoisted the flag of Pakistan here on 14th August to mark the 42nd Independence Day of Pakistan.
A relevant piece:
Sweden: Masked vandals torch dozens of cars before elections!
STOCKHOLM: Up to 80 cars were set on fire overnight across western Sweden by masked vandals, police said today, in what they suspect was a coordinated attack weeks before a general election.
Most of the cars were burned at around 20 locations in Sweden’s second largest city of Gothenburg late Monday.
Authorities said no suspects have been arrested so far and no motive has been established.
But police said they had identified several people in connection with the blazes, which they believe were organized on social media.
“We’ve never seen these many cars set on fire before,” Hans Lippens, a police spokesman in western Sweden, told AFP.
The incident triggered outrage among Swedish politicians who are busy campaigning for the September 9 general election.
“I’m furious. My question to (the perpetrators) is: what the hell are you doing?” Social Democratic Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told public broadcaster Swedish Radio on Tuesday.
“You’re ruining things for yourselves, your parents and your neighborhoods,” Lofven said, adding the incident “looked very coordinated, almost like a military operation”.
Cars set ablaze is common in Sweden. In Stockholm’s suburbs alone, such crimes happen almost on a daily basis, usually attributed to disadvantaged youths.
Last year, 1,457 cars were “deliberately” set on fire across Sweden, compared to 1,641 in 2016, according to the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency’s figures.
“Sweden has tolerated this for too long. This must end now,” Ulf Kristersson, leader of the conservative opposition party, the Moderates, wrote on his Facebook account.
Last year in February, two days after US President Donald Trump’s baffling comments linking the crime to immigration in Sweden, riots broke out in the immigrant-heavy northern Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby.
Dozens of youths clashed with police after they arrested a suspected drug dealer in Rinkeby. The rioters threw stones at police, burned cars and looted shops.