Kathmandu: The black box of an ill-fated Nepalese plane that crashed killing all 19 people on board was recovered today and officials citing a bird hit and an error by a "panic-stricken" pilot as possible causes of the tragedy.

Police handed over the black box data recorder of the Dornier aircraft that crashed near the Kathmandu airport on Friday to the committee investigating the accident.

The Sita Airways' plane had just taken off from Kathmandu and was headed to Lukla, the gateway to the Mount Everest, when it crashed into the banks of Manahara river on Friday morning.

Among the dead were seven Britons, five Chinese and seven local passengers and crew.

"We have taken out the data recorder and handed it over to the civil aviation authorities," Nepal police spokesman Binod Singh said.

All those killed were trekkers heading towards Khumbi area near the Mt Everest and their Nepalese trekking guides, who were killed in the plane crash.

Although the exact cause of the crash is still unknown, the manager of Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu has informed that the pilot had reported hitting a bird, minutes before the crash.

Although the official report on the crash is yet to come out, officials here also speculated that a human error might be one of the causes behind the crash.

An official at the Ministry of Tourism said that an error by a "panic-stricken" pilot likely caused the crash killing 16 passengers and three crew members on board.

"The pilot's failure to maintain the required radius might have caused the accident, as the plane turned too sharply without gaining adequate altitude," said a senior official at the ministry.

Eye witnesses described hearing the screams of passengers and seeing flames coming out from one of the plane's wings moments before it hit the ground.

Another airport staff said the life of the passengers could have been saved had the airhostess been well trained.

"As the plane caught fire only after hitting the ground, if the airhostess had guided the passengers towards the safe place and opened the door it might have saved many lives," said the official preferring anonymity.

The airhostess, who was one of the crew members who died in the crash, had joined the airlines just six month ago.


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