KATHMANDU: Nineteen people including foreign tourists and crew members on board the Sita Air's Dornier 9NAHA615 were killed as the small aircraft caught fire while trying to return to Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu on Friday morning for emergency landing.
According to Ghanashyam Shrestha, a staff of Sita Airlines, the pilots caught fire after a bird struck against the plane on the bank of Manohara River in Madhyapur Thimi near Jadibuti.
The ill-fated plane had taken off for Lukla, the famous tourist destination on the lap of Mt Everest, at 6:15 this morning.
The deceased have been identified as Pilot Bijaya Tandukar, Co-pilot Takesi Thapa and flight attendant Ruja Shakya while the identities of the other sixteen passengers, most of them believed to be foreign nationals, are yet to be ascertained.
The fatal accident occurred when the pilots tried to make an emergency landing after a few minutes of their flight, apparently after noticing technical glitches.
Eyewitness Ganesh Thapa said, “The aircraft looked unstable while it was taking off. I thought the pilots were trying to land on the bank of the Manohara River. It caught fire as soon as it touched the ground.”
All the bodies have been charred in such a way that no one can be identified while the aircraft is burnt out completely.
Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and Nepali Army personnel are carrying out the rescue operation and making a preparation to take the bodies to the TU Teaching Hospital in Maharajgunj for postmortem.