A small plane struck a bird and crashed shortly after takeoff from the Nepali capital of Kathmandu on Friday, killing 19 people, including seven British and five Chinese passengers, officials said.
The crash of the propeller-driven Dornier aircraft was the sixth
fatal air accident in less than two years in Nepal, where more than a
dozen small private carriers often brave bad weather to fly to mountain
areas served by no proper road network.
Tourism officials said the latest accident could deter foreign
tourists from embarking on treks in Nepal. Many of the dead were
Rescuers pulled charred bodies from the smouldering wreckage in a
field on a riverbank near the airport.
The Dornier, one of three
operated by private firm Sita Air, was bound on a clear morning for
Lukla – a gateway to Mount Everest.
Ratish Chandra Lal, general manager of Kathmandu airport, said the
pilot had informed air traffic controllers that the plane had hit a
The British embassy confirmed its nationals were among the dead.
Four Nepali passengers and three Nepali crew also died in the crash,
the second tragedy to hit the country in less than a week. An avalanche
killed at least 11 people, mostly foreigners, on a Himalayan peak on
A hiking group, Sherpa Adventure, said the Britons had been heading to the Khumbu area, home to Everest and other peaks.
“The accident could raise questions about safety and could definitely
affect tourism to some extent in the country,” said Ang Tshering
Sherpa, who runs the Asian Trekking agency.
There have been about 70 crashes in the 55-year history of Nepali
aviation. Nawaraj Giri, a Sita official, said it was the first accident
to hit the airline’s fleet of Dornier planes.
Autumn is the peak tourism season in Nepal, which has eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains.
Nepal receives more than half a million tourists every year, many of
them Western hikers and climbers. Tourism accounts for 4 percent of an
economy battered by a decade of civil war.
In May, 15 people were killed when their plane crashed into a hill in northwest Nepal.