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Melting glacier releases plane wreckage after 54 years

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It was hidden in the ice for more than half a century: because the Aletsch Glacier in Switzerland is melting, parts of a plane that crashed in 1968 have now been found there.

A small plane that crashed decades ago has been rediscovered in Switzerland on the Aletsch Glacier in the municipality of Fieschertal. The aircraft parts were found on Thursday, the police said.

According to initial investigations, they belong to a Piper Cherokee plane that crashed at the end of June 1968. A mountain guide found the parts, said Stefan Gafner from the nearby Konkordiahütte of the dpa news agency.

Debris from the small plane lies on the Aletsch Glacier in the Valais Alps – the Jungfraujoch can be seen in the background.

Image: dpa/Rebecca Gresch and Stefan Gafner/Hüttenwart Konkordiahütte

Crash at around 2800 meters

The crash site is at around 2800 meters above sea level in the Valais Alps. The three fatally injured occupants of the aircraft were rescued after the crash. The removal of the wreck was not technically possible at the time, according to the police. The “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” reported 54 years ago that the victims were a teacher, a doctor and his son.

It was known that a wreck was hidden under ice and snow, said Gafner. Due to the melt, however, the remains of the small aircraft have only now been released – and only over an area of ​​around 40 by 200 meters. The innkeeper therefore expects that more parts of the wreck will appear in the future.

Salvage could be possible years later

The police asked alpinists in a message, to report new finds. Because of the risk of injury, however, the authority pointed out not to touch the parts. Plans to salvage the wreck are currently underway, said a police spokesman.