Plane crash in northern Nepal kills 18, mostly German tourists

9th October 2008, Comments 0 comments

Rescue officials airlifted the charred remains to the capital Kathmandu to begin the identification process.

Kathmandu -- A plane crashed in Nepal's north-eastern Mount Everest region Wednesday, killing 18 people, a majority of them tourists from Germany and Australia, officials confirmed.

Rescue officials airlifted the charred remains to the capital Kathmandu to begin the identification process.

Officials said most victims were burned beyond recognition.

Those killed included 12 Germans, six of them women, four Nepalese and two Australians, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said.

"It appears that the aircraft belonging to Yeti Airlines tried to land in heavy fog and hit higher ground on the perimeter near the runway," said Mohan Adhikari, the director general of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. "We will investigate the accident in detail."

"Only the captain of the aircraft survived and he was airlifted to Kathmandu for treatment and was in stable condition," Adhikari said.

Witnesses said a cloud rose up the mountain cliff covering the airport, reducing visibility just as the plane was on final approach.

fficials said weather and visibility had been good when the plane took off on a half-hour flight to Lukla from Kathmandu.

Several planes had already landed and taken off from Lukla airport before the accident.

After hitting the perimeter the plane burst into flames and came to rest some 50 meters from the airport on the side of a cliff, a witness said.

Nepalese television showed the plane in several pieces and in flames with the passengers still strapped into their seats.

Rescue crews struggled to put out the flames as the airport lacked firefighting capabilities.

The Nepalese government announced the formation of a five-member high-level commission to investigate the accident. It is expected to submit its report within two months. Officials also corrected an earlier report of Swiss nationals being killed in the crash, saying they were actually Australians.

The plane involved in the accident was a Canadian-built Twin Otter, a type of aircraft widely used in Nepal for its ability to service remote areas where airport runways are short and located in difficult terrain.

The Lukla airport, located 2,743 meters above sea-level, is considered one of the world's most dangerous places to land with its steeply-inclined runway.

The airport is also one of the busiest in Nepal, handling as many as 50 flights a day during peak season from October through April.

In March a United Nations helicopter crashed and killed 10 people in stormy weather in Ramechhap district, east of Kathmandu.


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