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18 People, Mostly Foreign Tourists, Killed in Plane Crash in Nepal 

  • Anjana Pasricha

In Nepal, 18 people were killed when a small passenger plane crashed in the east of the country. Most of the victims were German tourists. Anjana Pasricha reports for VOA from New Delhi.

Airport officials in Nepal say the small private Twin Otter airplane was on a short half-hour flight Wednesday morning from the capital Kathmandu to Lukla town in eastern Nepal when it crashed while trying to land, and burst into flames.

All the passengers died. They included a dozen Germans, two Australians, and two Nepalese tourists. Two crew members were among those killed, but the pilot managed to get out.

Lukla is a small mountain town situated in the Himalayas at a height of more than 2,800 meters. It is known as the gateway to the Everest region, which is popular with
trekkers heading for mountain expeditions in Nepal.

General Manager of Kathmandu airport, Mohan Adhikari, says bad weather probably led to the plane crash.

"The weather was a bit tricky. In the morning it was all right, visibility was 5,000 meters, but later on it deteriorated, and perhaps that weather could be the reason, I mean, the contributing factor for the accident," he said.

In clear weather, dozens of daily flights ply between Lukla and Kathmandu. The town's airport is a tiny one, situated on a sloping airstrip, and there is a steep drop of
a few hundred meters at the end of the runway. Airport officials say it is among the most difficult ones in the world from which to take off and land.

Nepal is a popular destination for mountain trekkers from all over the world. This year around half a million tourists are expected to come into the country, for which tourism is the main revenue earner.