Kathmandu: Nineteen people, including seven British tourists on a trekking holiday to the foothills of Mount Everest, were killed Friday when an aircraft crashed minutes after taking off from the international airport here.
The Dornier Aircraft 9N-AHA of Sita Air crashed at 6.10 a.m. just a kilometre away from the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.
Seven Britons, five Chinese nationals and seven Nepali nationals were on the plane, reported BBC. Xinhua news agency had earlier reported that most of the foreign nationals who were killed were Italians.
The aircrash took place barely four months after an airplane carrying 21 people crashed on a cliff in western Nepal. At least seven Indians were among those killed in the May 14 aircrash.
Tulasa Pokharel, an eyewitness whose house is located barely meters away from the crash site, said she saw the plane with black smoke landing on the bank of Manohara river, reported myrepublica.com.
“That time I could hear some people inside the plane wailing and screaming.
“When we went to inform the police and other locals about the incident and came back, there was just silence. We saw the plane burning and all of them dead,” she was quoted as saying.
The seven Nepalis killed include three crew members – Pilot Bijaya Tandukar, Co-pilot T. Thapa and airhostess Ruja Shakya. Kumar Magar, a Nepalese soldier, had boarded the plane without the ticket.
Dipendra Paude, an official, said the were members of a trekking group planning to hike in the hills surrounding the world’s highest peak.
He said a fire had broken out in the aircraft within two minutes of its take-off. “There was a fire in the engine and it crashed down. We don’t know how old the plane was”.
The crew of the aircraft had felt the intense heat in the cabin.
A member of the Sita Airways operations office told The Telegraph that shortly before the fire broke out, the crew became aware of intense heat in the cabin.
“There was very much heat and then the fire began. They were very close to the airport. After two or three minutes it crashed,” the official was quoted as saying.