Nepal air crash leaves no survivors

At least 19 people, including 12 foreigners, killed after small plane flying towards Everest crashes near Kathmandu.

At least 19 people have been killed after a small plane flying towards Mount Everest crashed on the outskirts of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.

The Sita Air flight had just taken off from Kathmandu airport and was flying to the small town of Lukla, a gateway to the world’s highest mountain, when it plunged into the banks of a river near the city on Friday.

Binod Singh, the national police spokesman, said there were no survivors.

“The crash has caused the death of 12 foreigners, including seven British and five Chinese tourists. The remaining seven, including three crew members, are Nepalese,” Singh told the AFP news agency.

Singh said the plane crashed less than 1km from the airport at around 6:30am local time (00:45 GMT), next to the Manohara river.

Cellphone video shot by locals showed that the front section of the plane was on fire when it first hit the ground and that the pilot apparently had attempted to land the plane on open ground beside a river.

“The pilots seem to have tried to land it safely on the banks of the river but unfortunately the plane caught fire,” Singh said.

The pilot of the Dornier craft reported trouble two minutes after take-off and appeared to have been trying to turn back, Ratish Chandra Suman, a Kathmandu airport official, said.

He said the plane hit a vulture just after it took off, causing the crash, but could not confirm whether the plane was already on fire before it crashed.

Crash victims’ names

Airline officials identified the British crash victims as Raymond Eagle, 58; Christopher Franc Davey, 51; Vincent Kelly, 52; Darren Kelly, 45; Timothy Oakes, 57; Stephen Holding, 60; and Benjamin Ogden, 27.

The Nepalese passengers were identified as Kumar Marshyangdi Magar, Lakpa Noru Sherpa, D Rai and MK Tamang.

The crew members were pilot Bijay Tandukar, co-pilot Takashi Thapa and hostess Ruju Shakya.

China’s government-run Xinhua News Agency identified the Chinese victims as Wu-Hui, Qian-Mingwu, Wu-Lin, Wang-Jhihua and Yang-Chen.

Nepal has a poor road network and large numbers of tourists, pilgrims and professional climbers often rely on the country’s 16 domestic airlines and 49 airports to reach remote areas.

The accident is the sixth fatal air crash in Nepal in less than two years and raises new questions about the safety record of the country’s numerous small airlines.

Aircraft and pilots often have to contend with bad weather and difficult landing strips in the Himalayan nation.

In May, 15 people were killed when a small Agni Air plane taking tourists to a treacherous high-altitude airport near Nepal’s Annapurna mountain region ploughed into the ground.

In September last year, a small plane taking tourists on a sightseeing trip around Everest crashed into a hillside near Kathmandu, also killing all 19 people on board.

The Buddha Air Beechcraft plane, carrying 10 Indians, two Americans, one Japanese citizen and three local passengers, came down in heavy rain and fog at Godavari, about 10km from the capital.

Source: News Agencies