A recap of the worst air crashes in civilian aviation since the turn of the century.
|‘Mountain flights’ such as the one that crashed on Sunday take tourists over the Everest region [Reuters]|
A small aircraft carrying tourists to view Mount Everest has crashed while attempting to land in dense fog in Nepal, killing all 19 people on board.
Police and witnesses said the bodies were pulled out of the wreckage of the Beechcraft aircraft belonging to Buddha Air after the crash on Sunday.
The Buddha Air plane carrying 10 Indian passengers, one local and five other foreign tourists besides three Nepali crew crashed into a hillside in heavy rain and fog at Godavari, 10km from Kathmandu, Binod Singh, a police spokesman, told the AFP news agency.
“All 19 people have died. The Buddha Air-103 was returning from a mountain flight when it crashed into Kotdada Hill,” Bimlesh Lal Karna, head of the rescue department at Kathmandu’s Tribhuwan International Airport, told AFP.
A witness, Haribol Poudel, told the Avenues Television channel that the plane hit the roof of a house in the village. Poudel said it was foggy and that visibility was very low in the mountainous area.
Rewant Kuwar, an official at the Katmandu airport rescue office, said the Buddha Air plane had last made contact with the control tower at 7:31am local time.
The aircraft had taken the tourists to view Everest and other high peaks and was returning to Kathmandu.
The “mountain flight” takes tourists over the Everest region, and they can view some of the world’s highest peaks from the aircraft windows.
Kathmandu and its surrounding hills were enveloped in late monsoon clouds early on Sunday.
The last plane crash in Nepal was in December last year, when a Twin Otter aircraft hit the Himalayan foothills of remote east Nepal, killing all 22 people on board.
Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountain peaks, including Everest.
Tens of thousands of hikers and foreign tourists go to Everest and other trekking routes to see the lofty Himalayan peaks every year.
Those who cannot hike the rugged hilly trails to the mountains use mountain flights operated by different airlines to see the Himalayas.
Tourism, a key source of earning for impoverished Nepal, accounts for nearly four per cent of the gross domestic product and employs tens of thousands of people, among the poorest in the world.