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An old-time propeller plane crashed near-vertically at high speed into a Swiss mountain, killing all 20 people on board, police said Sunday.

Officials said 11 men and nine women were killed, most from Switzerland but also a couple and their son from Austria.

The fully booked plane was flying the passengers back to its base at Duebendorf, near Zurich, from a two-day trip to Switzerland's Italian-speaking southern Ticino region.

Nidwalden canton (state) police said that the aircraft went down near the town of Hergiswil today morning.

The investigation, complicated by the vintage plane's lack of a "black box" flight recorder, will take several days. He said hot weather conditions did not contribute to the crash.

The two pilots, who were 62 and 63-years-old, both had extensive experience with the Ju-52 and had long worked as airline and Swiss air force pilots, Waldmeier said.

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JU-Air CEO Kurt Waldmeier told reporters that the plane had undergone maintenance inspection in July.

"The JU-Air team is deeply saddened and is thinking of the passengers, the crew and families and friends of the victims", JU-Air said on its website on Sunday.

The plane was operated by Ju-Air, a Swiss company that offers tours with vintage former Swiss military aircraft.

The Junker JU52 is made of corrugated steel and was built by the German firm Junkers from the 1930s to 1950s.

On its website, JU-Air mentions one past accident, in 1987, at the Koblenz airport in Germany in which nobody was hurt.

Initial investigation showed the plane did not lose any parts or break up before it crashed in the Swiss Alps. No survivors have been found in that incident.


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