Cause of Crossair crash still unknown

The cause of Monday's aircrash near Zurich airport remains a mystery. The search for the black box flight recorders is resuming this morning. Ten people died in the accident.

This content was published on January 10, 2000 minutes

The cause of Monday's aircrash near Zurich airport remains a mystery. The search for the flight recorders is resuming this morning. Seven passengers and three crew members died in the accident

Efforts to find the black boxes of the Crossair plane near the village of Niederhasli were called off as darkness fell on Tuesday evening.

Much of the attention of crash investigators is focusing on the moments immediately before the accident. The plane veered dramatically to the right, instead of banking to the left as usual after take-off, indicating a possible problem on board.

Asked by the control tower about the unexpected course, one of the pilots answered: "standby". Aviation experts say the two pilots were probably too busy trying to resolve the problem to give a fuller reply. The plane disappeared off radar screens 30 seconds after last radio contact.

More than 100 people are working at the crash site. Only a small part of the wreckage, strewn over an area of about 500 metres, is visible, the rest having been buried in the mud. Work at the scene is expected to continue for several days.

The federal office for investigating flight accidents has opened a formal inquiry, the authorities announced in Berne.

The Crossair plane, a Saab-340 City-Liner, came down near Niederhasli just two minutes after taking off from Zurich-Kloten airport. It was on its way to the German city of Dresden. It was the worst plane crash in Switzerland since 1990.

The head of the SAir Group, Philippe Bruggisser announced that all ten people who died had been identified. Four of the passengers were Germans. The other three were from Switzerland, France and Spain.

The pilot was from Moldova, the co-pilot a Slovak and the flight attendant French. Both pilots were highly experienced and had been trained on the Saab-340, said Bruggisser.

SAir has offered immediate help worth around 30,000 francs to the families of the victims.

The pilot reported no technical difficulties on flight 498 to air traffic controllers after taking off at 17.55 local time. Weather conditions were good.

The SAirGroup owns the regional airline Crossair. It is the first time in its 20-year history that a Crossair plane has crashed with fatalities.

The twin-engine Saab-340 City-Liner is the smallest member of the Crossair fleet and has a seating capacity of 33.

From staff and wire reports

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