published Friday, September 28th, 2012

Plane going to Everest region crashes, killing 19

KATMANDU, Nepal — A plane carrying trekkers into the Everest region crashed just after takeoff Friday morning in Nepal’s capital, killing all 19 people on board, authorities said.

The pilot reported trouble two minutes after takeoff, and Katmandu airport official Ratish Chandra Suman said the plane appeared to have been trying to turn back to the airport. Suman said he could not confirm if the plane was already on fire before it crashed.

The twin-engine propeller plane belonging to domestic Sita Air crashed onto open ground near the Manohara River on the southwest edge of Katmandu. The morning weather was clear.

Firefighters brought the fire in the wreckage under control and police rescuers were trying to pull out the bodies, Katmandu airport police chief Narayan Bastakoti said.

Seven passengers were British while five were Chinese, Bastakoti said. The other three passengers and the four crew members were from Nepal.

The plane was heading for Lukla, the gateway to Mount Everest. Thousands of Westerners make treks in the region around the world’s highest peak each year. Autumn is considered the best time to trek the foothills of the Himalayan peaks.

The crash follows an avalanche on another Nepal peak Sunday that killed seven foreign climbers and a Nepali guide.

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