'Life was never the same again' - 45 years on from the Basle air disaster
PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 April 2018 | UPDATED: 11:33 18 April 2018
A Clevedon mum who lost five family members in a 'devastating' plane crash which killed more than 100 people spoke of how life was 'never the same again'.
The Invicta Airlines flight 435 left Bristol Airport with more than 140 passengers and crew members on April 10, 1973 travelling to Switzerland.
People from Congresbury, Wrington, Axbridge and Cheddar were on the flight, which was organised by Congresbury Social Club, to enjoy a shopping trip.
On its third approach to Basle-Mulhouse Airport, the plane hit a fir tree with its wing tip and crashed into snow-covered hills – killing 108 people.
There were just 37 survivors.
Now, 45 years since the accident, the North Somerset Times spoke to Rosemarie Pitts, aged 70, whose parents, younger brother, aunt and cousin tragically died in the air disaster.
She said: “I was married, six months pregnant and living in Clevedon when I first heard reports of the crash at lunchtime on the local radio.
“We kept in touch with family in Congresbury and stayed by the radio and TV for further reports.
“First reports said there was no loss of life with few casualties, but following reports confirmed it was a lot more serious.
“Communications were not like they are today and we had great difficulty in trying to discover the fate of my family. It was not until the early hours of April 11 that a list of survivors was given.
“Our family name was on it, but no initials were given. Having to wait for the identification process over the phone was horrendous.
“It was a devastating tragedy which you have to live with and somehow find the strength to carry on.”
She also became the legal guardian for her youngest brother David, who was 16 and on a school trip at the time of the crash.
Rosemarie added: “45 years later – life goes on. You never forget, you live with it on a daily basis.
“My children grew up without grandparents. At family celebrations we still miss them, even after such a long time. April 10 is a day of remembrance when I visit the church and lay flowers in memory of my family.”
Rosemarie said she ‘felt very strongly’ about the lack of counselling she had back when the crash happened.
She added: “Although we had strong support from family and friends, there was no offer of counselling which would have really helped us.”