19 killed in Nepal plane crash

Monday 26 September 2011 11.41
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Plane carrying foreign tourists crashes near Kathmandu
Plane carrying foreign tourists crashes near Kathmandu
Rescuers and onlookers survey the crash site
Rescuers and onlookers survey the crash site

A small plane carrying foreign tourists to view Mount Everest has crashed in bad weather near Nepal's capital Kathmandu, killing all 19 people on board.

Kathmandu Airport officials said there were 16 passengers and a crew of three on board the plane.

The cause of the crash was not known.

"We had rushed a survivor to the hospital but he died during the treatment. So we have all 19 people dead," police spokesman Binod Singh said.

The Beech aircraft owned by Buddha Air, a private airline, was flying to Kathmandu from a mountain flight to Everest.

"The plane was returning to Kathmandu from a mountain flight when it crashed," an official at the Kathmandu airport a Rescue Coordination Centre said.

The centre is operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.

He said the plane had crashed at Kotdanda, about 5km south of the Nepali capital.

There were ten Indian, two American, one Japanese , three Nepali passengers and three Nepali crew members, he said.

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 onboard.

Nepal is home to eight of the world's 14 highest mountain peaks, including Mount Everest.

Tens of thousands of hikers and foreign tourists go to Mount 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 4% of the gross domestic product and employs tens of thousands of people.