Small plane crashed into the lake after take-off in Altenrhein

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Small plane crashed into the lake after taking off in Altenrhein: the pilot is dead – he should have been alone in the machine

A small plane crashed into Lake Constance near Staad early Thursday afternoon. Several passers-by sounded the alarm. According to initial findings, the pilot, a 72-year-old Swiss, may have been traveling alone. He died in the accident. The aircraft was registered to a company in eastern Switzerland.

The wreckage of the crashed plane. Due to the low water level, the rescue workers were able to walk to the crash site.

Build: Ralph Ribi

It was just a month ago that a plane crashed in the Alpstein. It was a Cessna with which the 63-year-old pilot wanted to fly to Italy. The man did not survive the accident. Another plane crash has now occurred in eastern Switzerland.

The machine involved in the accident was a small aircraft which crashed into the lake after taking off from Altenrhein near Staad. The aircraft, type Beechcraft Bonanza, is registered to a company based in eastern Switzerland. The company declined to provide any information when asked.

Large-scale operation of the rescue organizations

Hanspeter Krüsi, Head of Communications at the St.Gallen Cantonal Police.

Hanspeter Krüsi, Head of Communications at the St.Gallen Cantonal Police.

Image: Kapo SG

When asked, Hanspeter Krüsi, Head of Communications at the St.Gallen cantonal police, explained that a passer-by had raised the alarm with the police. “A second then reported that the plane was still on the water,” said Krüsi. More calls followed – according to Krüsi, one of them said that the accident machine was quite damaged; in another, she had meanwhile sunk.

The accident site is about 50 meters from the shore. Hanspeter Krusi:

“The water at the scene of the accident is knee-deep, you can wade there with boots.”

As Krüsi goes on to explain, the police went there with a large contingent. Rescue workers, Rega, fire brigade and sea rescue teams as well as divers were also deployed. The Swiss Safety Investigation Center (Sust) was also informed, according to Krüsi.

In another media release, the cantonal police informed that the pilot had reported technical problems before the crash. He was given permission to return to the airfield and land.

Body found in wreck

Shortly after 6 p.m., the police announced: “The rescue workers were able to locate the pilot in the wreck. Unfortunately, he had already passed away.” The fatality is a 72-year-old Swiss. According to current knowledge, there is no evidence of other passengers who were in the machine. The plane was recovered Thursday evening.

What was the destination of the plane that later died from Altenrhein? Hanspeter Krüsi has no answer: “There is no flight plan for this small machine,” he says. Krüsi does not want to comment on statements by eyewitnesses to “FM1 Today” that there was a bang, after which the plane’s engine went out and the machine fell into the lake. The questioning of eyewitnesses will be forwarded to Sust, according to Krüsi.

Residents did not hear a bang, but then the sirens

Eliane Vilarino.

Eliane Vilarino.

Archive image: Sandro Büchler

“I didn’t notice anything about the crash at first,” says Eliane Vilarino, who lives on the lake shore right next to the accident site. She did not hear any bang.

“It was only when I heard the ambulance and police sirens that I went onto the balcony and saw the plane in the water.”

A Rega helicopter and the fire brigade also arrived quickly. “Now the shore area is cordoned off over a large area.”

Similar misfortune a year ago

The plane crash is reminiscent of a similar incident from a year ago. In February 2021, a plane crashed in the lake near Staad, back then on the approach to land. The pilot, a 70-year-old German, was rescued and brought ashore.

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