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24 Believed Dead in Switzerland Plane Crash - 2001-11-25


Swiss police fear that 24 people died in the Crossair jet crash outside of Zurich late Saturday. Zurich police have confirmed the deaths of 10 people but have not been able to locate 14 others who were on board the plane. Nine were injured in the accident and are being treated in area hospitals.

Crews of rescue and recovery workers combed the snowy woodland for signs of life through the bitter cold night and into the daylight, but police now say there is no longer any hope of finding more survivors.

The Crossair plane, carrying 33 people from Berlin, was on an instrument landing approach when it crashed near Bassersdorf, near Zurich airport. Swiss, Germans, Canadians, Austrians, Dutch and Israelis were on board the flight.

Police say they do not yet know what caused the four-engine Avro RJ100 Jumbolino jet to crash. But Zurich police spokesman Marcel Strabal says they have found the plane's flight and voice recorders and "we will know later when we have the results of these boxes."

Authorities are dismissing the possibility of terrorism. They say it was snowing and raining at the time of the accident.

It is believed that the new landing approach, used only for the past few weeks under a new German-Swiss agreement to cut down on nighttime air traffic noise, was made more difficult by the poor weather.

Several aviation experts, however, have hinted at pilot or navigational equipment error. But Crossair's chief executive, Andre Doss, has refused to comment on speculation that the plane came in too low before crashing into the woods.

He says news of the crash has come as a great shock and at a very difficult time in the entire aviation industry.

Saturday's crash was the second experienced by regional carrier Crossair in less than two years. The accident will focus added attention on the national carrier now destined to operate most flights of Switzerland's financially collapsed airline, Swissair.