Small passenger plane crashes near Kathmandu killing all 19 on board

A small passenger plane operated by Sita Air crashes shortly after takeoff from the Nepali capita of Kathmandu on Friday killing 16 passengers and three crew members on board. The twin-engine prop plane was headed towards Lukla, the hub for trekking in the Everest region before plunging into the banks of the Manohara river on the outskirts of Kathmandu, police said. A total of 19 people on board did not survive the accident.

“The pilots seem to have tried to land it safely on the banks of the river but unfortunately the plane caught fire,” police spokesman Binod Singh told AFP news agency.

Rescuers are still trying to put out the fire,” police spokesman Binod Singh told AFP.

Dozens of army personnel were racing to the crash site, said Nepalese army spokesman Ramindra Chhetri, to bring the blaze under control.

The weather was clear at the time and the cause of the crash was not immediately known. Four Nepali passengers and three Nepali crew members were among the dead. The remaining nationalities of those that were on board are not yet known.

Nepal has a poor road network and large numbers of tourists, pilgrims and professional climbers often rely on the country’s 16 domestic airlines and 49 airports to reach remote areas.

The latest fatal crash in Nepal — the sixth in less than two years — could potentially lead to new scrutiny of the country’s numerous small airlines, which provide vital links to remote parts of the country.

Aircraft and pilots often have to contend with bad weather and difficult landing strips in the Himalayan nation.

In another recent accident in Nepal, a small Agni Air plane taking tourists to a treacherous high-altitude airport near the Annapurna mountain region ploughed into the ground, killing 15 people on board.

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