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Sunday, 25 November, 2001, 14:50 GMT
Zurich rescue efforts called off
Wreck of Crossair plane
The plane came down in thick woods
Zurich police say 24 people died when a Swiss aircraft crashed in woodland near Zurich airport on Saturday night.

Crossair Flight LX3597 from Berlin was carrying 28 passengers and five crew when it came down in poor weather conditions on its final approach to the airport.


They were probably in the middle of the plane, and they are either incinerated or buried in the ground

Peter Grueter
Swiss police
Rescuers recovered 10 bodies and found nine injured survivors, two of whom are in a critical condition.

Local police commander Peter Grueter said the 14 others were presumed dead.

"They were probably in the middle of the plane, and they are either incinerated or buried in the ground," he said.

Police had initially hoped to find walking wounded wandering in the woods near the crash site, but have now called off the search and rescue operation.

Fireball

The plane was approaching Runway 28, a new night-landing strip only brought into operation four weeks ago.

The cause of the crash is not known, but officials said the weather at the time was poor, with some rain and intermittent snow.

Both flight recorders have been recovered and are currently being analysed.

Rescue worker and burnt plane fuselage
The middle of the plane caught fire on impact
Aviation experts say the pilot, who had more than 10 years' flying experience, may have brought the plane down too low ahead of landing.

There has been no word on whether the Swiss pilot and any of his crew survived.

The passengers were from several countries, including Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Austria, Canada and Israel.

A fireball engulfed the middle part of the plane after the crash, but the cockpit and tail areas were left largely unscathed, local police and airport officials said.

The plane was a four-engined Jumbolino jet built in 1996 by British Aerospace.

Crossair spokesman Patrick Jeandrain said all the company's other 19 Jumbolino aircraft would be tested before resuming flights.

Troubled times

Crossair, once a subsidiary of the financially troubled Swissair Group, flies between Swiss cities and other destinations in Europe.

A Crossair Saab 340 that crashed in January 2000
A Crossair plane crashed last winter at Zurich
Swissair filed for bankruptcy two months ago, and Crossair is due to take over two-thirds of its operations in a government-financed rescue operation next spring.

It is the second accident involving a Crossair plane since the company was set up in 1975.

In January 2000 one of its planes, a Saab 340, also crashed near Zurich on a flight from Germany, killing 10 people.

Crossair's chief executive Andre Doze, who went to the scene of the crash, said the incident was "an extremely hard blow to the company".

He said it was too early to speculate on the possible consequences of the incident for the company's future.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Tony Morris
"There are no indications this was a terrorist attack"
Chris Yates, Jane's Defence
"This has come at a very bad time"
Crossair spokesman
"The fatalities seem to have come from the middle of the plane"
See also:

26 Nov 01 | Music
US singer dead in Swiss crash
24 Nov 01 | World
Air disaster timeline
22 Oct 01 | Business
State saves Swissair
22 Nov 01 | Business
Round-up: Aviation in crisis
Internet links:


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