Lifestyle & Belief

Nepal: Plane hits bird and crashes, killing 19 tourists


Nepalese rescue team members looks at the remains of a Sita air plane after it crashed in Manohara, Bhaktapur on the outskirts of Kathmandu on September 28, 2012.

In the Everest region, 19 people, including seven British tourists, were killed this morning when their aircraft crashed shortly after taking off from Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, Agence France Presse reported.

The plane was heading for Lukla, the gateway to Mount Everest.

BBC News reported while the cause of the crash was not yet known, the general manager of Tribhuvan International Airport, Ratish Chandra Lal Suman, said it appeared the front engine of the plane had been hit by a bird.

The pilot of the Sita Air plane alerted authorities to this and Civil Aviation Authority officials ordered him to make an emergency landing.

According to The Telegraph, they had told him to start a second engine but the damaged engine caught fire, officials said.

The pilot decided instead to try to land the plane in the nearby Monahara River where he thought the water might douse the flames but instead crashed into a football ground on the river bank.

The group of trekkers, aged between 27 and 60, had arrived in Nepal on Wednesday, and were due to begin their trek today. 

The British crash victims were identified 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 New York Daily News reported.

They included two brothers, two close friends and an Oxford University graduate who was travelling alone, London's Telegraph newspaper said.

The Nepalese passengers were Kumar Marshyangdi Magar, Lakpa Noru Sherpa, D. Rai and M.K. 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.

One of the first rescuers to reach the crash site, police officer Bhagwan Bhandari, described the scene as "terrifying".

"There was fire coming from the aircraft. Red flames were reaching up to 20m (65ft) above the ground," he said.

Climber Alan Hinkes says the landing strip at Lukla is where most crashes happen
"It wasn't possible to get inside to conduct rescue operations. We could hear blasts from the parts and engines of the aircraft."

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