M A I N   N E W S

10 Indians killed in plane crash near Kathmandu
19 die in mishap that occured when aircraft was on way back from trip around Mt Everest
Bad weather in the region hampers rescue efforts

Kathmandu, September 25
Ten Indians were among 19 people killed today when a small plane carrying them crashed and broke into pieces at Kotdanda hills near the Nepalese capital while returning from a sight-seeing trip around Mount Everest.

The Beechcraft plane (BHA 103), which crashed at 7.30 am local time, belonged to the private Buddha Air airline, according to Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).

All 19 people aboard the plane, including 10 Indians, two Americans and a Japanese national, were killed in the crash, officials said.

Among those killed was a Nepalese passenger, who initially survived the crash but succumbed to his wounds in hospital after being rescued from the accident site at Kotdanda near Bishankhunarayan Temple in Lalitpur district, located 20 km east of the capital.

Apart from 13 foreigners, the plane was carrying three Nepalese passengers and a three-member crew, according to the Rescue Coordination Centre, Tribhuvan International Airport, under the CAAN.

The aircraft, which had taken tourists to view Mount Everest and other high peaks, crashed and broke into pieces at Kotdanda hills minutes after losing contact with the control tower.

The rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather in the region.

The Indian nationals killed in the crash were identified as Pankaj Mehta and his wife Chhaya, and eight men from Tamil Nadu M V Marathachalam, M Manimaran, V M Kanakasabesan, A K Krishnan, R M Minaxi Sunsaram, K Thiyagarajan, T Dhanasekaran and Kattoos Mahalingam.

Fiftyseven-year-old Mehta was working as chief of the health section of UNICEF, Kathmandu.

According to Mehta's colleagues here, the couple had been here for the past three years and had possibly come from Gujarat.

The eight tourists from Tamil Nadu were staying at Hotel Grand at Tahachal, according to the hotel's Sales Manager Phurba Sherpa.

The two Americans killed were identified as Andrew Wade and Natalie Neilan, while the Japanese national was identified as Ujima Toshinori.

The three crew members killed in the crash were Captain J D Tamrakar, Captain P Adhikari and air hostess A Shrestha.

A Simrik Airlines helicopter landed at the accident site at Kotdanda and transported the dead to Kathmandu, according to Chief District Officer Ratna Raj Pandey.

Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar visited the Tribhuvan International Airport here to take stock of the situation, especially handling of the bodies.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has formed a three-member team, headed by former CAAN Director General Jajeshraj Dali, to investigate the crash. In a statement, the Indian embassy here expressed profound grief over the death of the Indian nationals in the crash.

Bodies of all ten Indians were taken to TU Teaching Hospital after being flown to Kathmandu.

Quoting witnesses, local TV channels said flames could be seen coming from the plane just before it crashed. Buddha Air offers an 'Everest Experience' package under which it takes tourists around 8848-metre high Mount Everest, the world's tallest mountain, for sightseeing.

In December last year, a Twin Otter plane carrying 22 people, mostly Bhutanese nationals and an American, crashed after taking off from a small airstrip 140 km east of Kathmandu.

Earlier in November, a helicopter, which was on a mission to rescue two stranded climbers, crashed near Mount Everest, killing two people.

Three months before this accident, a plane going to the Everest region crashed in bad weather, killing all 14 people on board, including four Americans, a Japanese and a British national. PTI





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |