Passenger plane crashes near Kathmandu


KATHMANDU, Nepal – A small passenger plane heading to the Mount Everest region crashed Tuesday outside Nepal’s capital in heavy rain with 14 people aboard, including five U.S. nationals and a Japanese tourist, officials said.

A witness said the plane broke into pieces upon impact and that there were no survivors, but there was no immediate word from officials on casualties.

There were five Americans and one Japanese aboard the pland and the remaining passengers and crew were Nepalese, said Tri Ratna Manandhar of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. The names of the victims were not immediately released.

The plane went down near Shikharpur village, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Kathmandu, area police chief Ram Bahadur Shrestha said.

The German-built Dornier airplane was carrying 11 passengers and three crew members when bad weather forced it to try to return to Kathmandu.

Shrestha said rescuers were not immediately able to reach the crash site and that villagers were trying to help out. The area has no roads and is only accessible by foot, but the route from the nearest town was blocked by a river flooded by monsoon rainfall.

Ram Bahadur Gole, a villager who witnessed the accident, told Avenues Television network that there were no survivors. He said the crash impact broke the plane into several pieces that were scattered on a hillside.

Continuing rain and flooding had made many of the area’s foot trails unpassable, Gole was quoted as saying.