From Shirish B Pradhan
Kathmandu: Seven Indians were among 13 passengers killed today when a private plane with 21 people on board crashed in northern Nepal while trying to land at high-altitude Jomsom airport, a popular Himalayan trekking spot.
The Dornier aircraft belonging to the Agni Air crashed when it hit top of a hill near Pokhara while returning to the Jomsom airport, said an official at the Rescue Coordination Committee of Tribhuvan International Airport.
“Seven Indian nationals and six Nepalese were killed in the crash,” the official said, adding rescuers have so far recovered nine bodies from the wreckage.
Eight people on board, including the three crew members and four Indians, have been rescued alive from the crash site, he said.
The injured people were taken to a nearby hospital in Pokhara where conditions of the four Indians were critical.
The aircraft was heading towards Jomsom in the morning when it hit the hill, the official said, adding that there are possibilities of a technical fault.
Detail reports from the crash site is awaited.
The high-altitude Jomsom airport, about 200 km northwest of the capital, is a gateway to a popular tourism and trekking destination situated more than 2,600 m above sea level.
When contacted, Indian Embassy officials said they were trying to collect the details as there was some confusion over the nationalities of the passengers on board the ill-fated plane.
The passengers had chartered the flight to take them from the central tourist hub of Pokhara to Muktinath, a sacred place for Hindus and Buddhists at the foot of the Thorong La Himalayan mountain pass, an official said.
Agni Air marketing manager Pramod Pandey said two Danish nationals were among the passengers, although their condition was not known.
“It’s not that much difficulty to land at the Jomsom airport. We are using experienced pilots over there. So, this pilot who flying this aircraft has a lot of flying hours,” he added.