BBC NEWS(UK), TIMES OF INDIA (India)
KATHMANDU - A plane carrying trekkers to the Everest region crashed and burned just after takeoff on the outskirts of Nepal's capital, killing all 19 people on board, including seven British and five Chinese passengers.
According to eyewitnesses, the small plane operated by Sita Air crashed into a river bank and caught fire about 20 metres from a settlement (watch video below).
The cause of the crash has not yet been made official, however the general manager of Tribhuvan International Airport, Ratish Chandra Lal Suman, said it appeared that the plane had struck a bird, BBC News reports ; the Indian daily newspaper Times of India adds that a black eagle had been recovered in three pieces on the site of the crash.
Among the dead were seven British, five Chinese, four Nepali passengers and three Nepali crew members. The twin-propeller plane was travelling to Lukla, the gateway to the Everest region. The British nationals had planned a 13-day trek to Everest Base Camp.
It’s the sixth fatal air crash in Nepal in the last two years, raising fresh questions about the safety record of the country's numerous small airlines. It’s also the second tragedy to hit the region in less than a week, after an avalanche killed at least 11 people on a Himalayan peak on Sunday.