Notices of Condolence

A written question in the House of Commons

Local MP Jerry Wiggin (by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he would make a statement about the air disaster at Hochwald involving a Vanguard of Invicta International Airlines.

Mr Michale Heseltine MP Issued the following statement in the House of Commons, Wednesday 11 April 1973

An Invicta International Airlines Vanguard G-AXOP (Oscar Papa) on a flight from Bristol to Basle yesterday crashed at about 10 a.m. GMT into a forest in a mountainous area near the village of Hochwald some ten miles south of Basle Airport during the course of an overshoot following an unsuccessful approach to land. Of the 139 passengers and six crew it is now believed that more than 100 passengers and four crew lost their lives.

I know the House will wish to join me in expressing deep sympathy with the relatives and friends of those who lost their lives in this disaster. The terrain in the area where the crash took place was very difficult and access to the wreckage was greatly hindered by heavy snow and by mist. In these particular circumstances, a great tribute must be paid to the Swiss rescue organisations for their efforts to get the injured to hospital and in particular to the farmers and villagers of Hochwald for the enormous effort they made to locate and help the survivors. A formal investigation into the accident has been instituted by the Swiss authorities who have invited the United Kingdom to appoint an accredited representative and advisers to assist them. A party from the Accidents Investigation Branch accompanied by a team from the Royal Air Force Institute of Aviation Pathology arrived at Basle early yesterday evening. Invicta International Airlines have made arrangements to fly relatives to Switzerland today on two flights scheduled to leave at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. One of these flights is expected to return this evening bringing those survivors fit to travel.

Mr. Wiggin MP Replied

I thank the Minister for his expressions of sympathy. The expressions of sympathy received from Her Majesty and the Prime Minister were much appreciated. This is a terrible and sudden disaster of great magnitude to three parishes in my constituency. In extending my sympathy and thoughts to the bereaved, I know that the House will understand my personal feelings when I explain that many of the dead came from the little town where I live and were personal friends of mine and of my family. I also wish to join in expressing gratitude to those in Switzerland who assisted yesterday.

Mr Tony Benn MP Added

May I join in the expressions of sympathy so movingly expressed by the Hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Wiggin) with those who have been bereaved by this disaster which is so cruelly focused on these small communities. I thank the Government for the rapid action they have taken in sending out a team, and the Opposition also associates themselves with the thanks that have been expressed to the Swiss rescue teams.

Mr Tom King MP Also added

I have close personal and family connections with the villages affected by this tragic disaster, and I am grateful for the opportunity to associate myself with the expressions of sympathy from both sides of the House. I support my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Wiggin) in asking for every possible help to be given to those who are in Switzerland now, and on their return.

A series of Telegrams from Her Majesty The Queen, Government Minsters, The Swiss Government and Invicta International Airways.