Kathmandu: All 19 people, including seven Britons and five Chinese, aboard a small plane carrying trekkers to the Everest region, were killed when the aircraft crashed and burned after a bird hit as soon as it took off from the Nepalese capital.

Sixteen passengers and three crew members who were heading towards Lukla, gateway to Mt Everest, for trekking in the mountain region, were all killed when a Sita Airways-owned Dornier aircraft crashed two minutes after it took off at 6:15 am (local time) from the Tribhuvan International Airport, officials said.

Among the 16 passengers, who have died in the Dornier Aircraft 9N AHA D228 crash, were seven British, five Chinese and four Nepalese nationals, according to the Rescue Coordination Committee of the Tribhuvan International Airport.

The three crew members were Nepalese.

"Immediately after the take off, the air traffic controllers noticed the aircraft making unusual maneuvers. When the controller asked the pilot about it, he said the plane had struck a bird," Manager of Tribhuvan International Airport Ratish Chandra Lal Suman said.

"Shortly after, the aircraft crashed. All the bodies have been sent to hospital for post mortem examinations," he said.

The police, army and airport staff rushed to the accident site for carrying out rescue work soon after the crash.

The plane had caught fire as soon as it took off and it crashed at the banks of the Manahara river in Koteshwor region, near a slum area, just 2-3 km south of the airport, officials said. The crew members are identified as Captain Bijaya Tandukar, co-Pilot Takeshi Thapa and airhostess Ruja Shakya.

The country has a poor record in road and air accidents with the latest fatal air crash in Nepal being the sixth in less than two years.

Earlier this year in May, Agni Air's Dornier Aircraft crashed near Jomsom airport in the north of Kathmandu killing 15 people. Those killed in that accident included 13 Indian pilgrims who were heading towards a famous pilgrimage site, Muktinath, near Tibet border.

In September last year, a small Beach Aircraft belonging to Buddha Air, carrying tourists on a mountain flight trip around Everest crashed into a hillside at Godavari village near Kathmandu, killing 19 people, including 10 Indians.

Plane crew felt intense heat in cabin

London: The crew of the aircraft that crashed on Friday minutes after taking-off from the international airport in Kathmandu had felt intense heat in the cabin, it was reported.

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.

The dead include the crew - a pilot, a co-pilot and an air hostess. 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, killing all 19 people onboard.

I heard people screaming: Eyewitness

Kathmandu: Some passengers in the aircraft that crashed near the international airport on Friday were heard "wailing and screaming", said an eyewitness who recalled the horror.

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 an open space on the bank of Manohara river.

"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.


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