Death in the snow

Death in the snow

From DENIS MARTIN Bonn Daily Mirror report, April 11th 1973

A ROW of bodies lie on snow-covered Swiss mountainside- as rescuers stand helplessly by. This was the grim scene after the plane crash in which 110 Britons, nearly all of them women, died yesterday. Rescuers found snow conditions so bad that they had to call in helicopters to drop doctors and medical supplies. Britain’s consul in Basle, Mr. Ivor May, who went to the scene, said: It was a miracle that there are any survivors at all. They were all brought down to a farmhouse, but it took some time to reach the plane in the first place. Farmers from miles around heard the news on their radios and came out with their snowploughs. Tractors virtually became ambulances, ferrying the injured down the hillside.” Mr. May added: “The irony is this has been one of the mildest winters in Swiss history.”

A POLICEMAN Guides weeping survivor of yesterday’s air crash and nearby the shattered wreckage of Papa Oscar lies on a wooded mountain- side. The tragedy is a haunt- ing reminder to the Swiss of an air disaster almost ten years ago, In September. 1963, eighty people from the tiny village of Humlikon died as Swissair Caravelle crashed after take-off from Zurich, Forty-three farmers and their wives–a fifth of the village’s population–were killed and forty children were left as orphans. 

Yesterday’s disaster brings the international death toll from air crashes in the past year to more than 2,000, about twice as many as in 1971. The worst crash involving a British, plane was in 1966, when 124 passengers and crew of a BOAC jet-liner died near Mount Pull, Japan. Airlines insist that flying is NOT getting more dangerous. They say many more people are flying than ever before, and that the death rate is still relatively low. 

In 1930, the average number of passengers in any plane was twenty. Today, it more than 100 -and fully-loaded jumbo jet can carry up to 300. After yesterday’s crash, some aviation chiefs expect renewed eriticism charter operators. But their safety record is now equal to that of scheduled airlines for the first time.

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