Nepal plane crash kills all 19 on board

Kathmandu: All 19 people, including seven Britons and five Chinese, aboard a private airlines-owned Dornier aircraft, were killed today as the plane crashed minutes after taking off from the Tribhuvan International Airport here.

Sixteen passengers and three crew members who were heading towards Lukla, gateway to Mt Everest, for trekking in the mountain region, were killed when the small aircraft belonging to Sita Airways crashed two minutes after it took off at 6:15 am (local time), airport officials said.

Among the 16 passengers, who have died in the Dornier Aircraft 9N AHA D228 crash, were seven British, five Chinese and four Nepalese nationals, according to the Rescue Coordination Committee of the Tribhuvan International Airport. The three crew members were Nepalese.

The police, army and airport staff rushed to the accident site for carrying out rescue works soon after the crash.

The plane had caught fire as soon as it took off and it crashed at the banks of the Manahara river in Koteshwor region, near a slum area, just 2-3 km south of the airport, the officials said.

The crew members are identified as Captain Bijaya Tandukar, co-Pilot Takeshi Thapa and airhostess Ruja Shakya.

The reason of the accident is not yet known. However, some airport officials speculate that bird hit might have caused the plane to burn in the sky immediately after it took off and the pilot might have tried to land into the nearby river before it crashed at the river bank.

The country has a poor record in road and air accidents with the latest fatal air crash in Nepal being the sixth in less than two years.

Earlier this year in May, Agni Air’s Dornier Aircraft crashed near Jomsom airport in the north of Kathmandu killing 15 people. Those killed in that accident included 13 Indian pilgrims who were heading towards a famous pilgrimage site, Muktinath, near Tibet border.

In September last year, a small Beach Aircraft belonging to Buddha Air, carrying tourists on a mountain flight trip around Everest crashed into a hillside at Godavari village near Kathmandu, killing 19 people, including 10 Indians.