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Pilot error caused plane crash near Everest - report  Jan 01, 2009

KATHMANDU - Pilot error caused a plane crash in the mountains of northeast Nepal that killed 18 people in October, a report said on Thursday.

The small private plane operated by Yeti Airlines, a domestic airline, crashed shortly before it was due to land at Lukla, known as the gateway to Mount Everest, about 125 km northeast of Kathmandu.

"The crew made incorrect judgement of the deteriorating weather and flew into a patch of cloud causing the accident," an investigation report submitted to the government said.

There were 12 German and two Australian tourists among the dead. The rest were Nepalis.

The remote airport at Lukla was built in the 1960s by mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary to facilitate expeditions to Mt. Everest and bring development to the impoverished area where the Sherpa community, known for their climbing skills, live.

Nepal named the airport last year after Hillary and his climbing mate, Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, as a tribute to the pair who climbed Everest first in 1953.

About a dozen private airlines operate in Nepal. Many fly to remote areas that have no roads, mostly carrying foreign tourists to the Himalayan foothills.

Pilot error caused plane crash near Everest - report
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