Sep 28, 2012 / 7:08 am
A plane carrying trekkers to the Mount Everest region hit a bird and crashed just after takeoff Friday in Nepal's capital, killing all 19 on board.
The pilot of the domestic Sita Air flight reported trouble two minutes after takeoff and appeared to have been trying to turn back, said Kathmandu airport official Ratish Chandra Suman. The crash site is only 500 metres (547 yards) from the airport, and the wrecked plane was pointing toward the airport area. Suman said the plane hit a vulture just after it took off, causing the crash.
Suman said he could not confirm whether the plane was already on fire before it crashed. Cellphone video shot by locals showed that the front section of the plane was on fire when it first hit the ground and that the pilot apparently had attempted to land the plane on open ground beside a river.
The fire quickly spread to the rear, but the tail was still in one piece at the scene near the Manohara River on the southwest edge of Kathmandu. Villagers were unable to approach the plane because of the fire, and it took some time for firefighters to reach the area and bring the fire under control.
Soldiers and police sifted through the crash wreckage looking for bodies and documents to help identify the victims. Seven passengers were British and five were Chinese; the other four passengers and the three crew members were from Nepal, authorities said.
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