KATHMANDU, May 14 (PTI): Eleven Indian pilgrims were among 15 people killed when a private plane crashed in northern Nepal today after hitting a hill top while trying to land at high-altitude Jomsom airport.
The Dornier aircraft belonging to the Agni Air went down while landing at Jomsom airport in northern Nepal, said an official at the rescue coordination committee of Tribhuvan International Airport. �Eleven Indian nationals, two Danish nationals and two Nepalese crew member were killed in the crash,� the official said, adding rescuers have so far extricated nine bodies from the wreckage.
Six people on board, including a crew member and five Indians, have been rescued alive from the crash site, he said. The injured people were taken to a hospital in Pokhara where the condition of the three Indians was described as critical. The ill-fated aircraft was carrying 18 passengers, including 16 Indians and three Nepali crew members. The aircraft was heading towards Jomsom in the morning from Pokhara when it hit the hill, the official said, citing technical fault as a possible reason for the crash.
The passengers had chartered the flight to take them from the central tourist hub of Pokhara to Muktinath, a famous Hindu pilgrimage in Jomsom near Tibetan border at the foot of the Thorong La Himalayan mountain pass, the official said. The high-altitude Jomsom airport, about 200 km northwest of the capital, is a gateway to a popular tourism and trekking destination situated more than 2,600 metres above sea level.
When contacted, Indian Embassy officials said they were trying to collect details as there was some confusion over the nationalities of the passengers on board the plane that crashed.
The passengers had chartered the flight to take them from the central tourist hub of Pokhara to Muktinath, a sacred place for Hindus and Buddhists at the foot of the Thorong La Himalayan mountain pass, an official said. Agni Air marketing manager Mr Pramod Pandey said two Danish nationals were among the passengers, though it could not be ascertained if they had survived the crash. �It's not that much difficult to land at Jomsom airport. We are using experienced pilots. The pilot who flying this aircraft has a lot of flying hours,� Mr Pandey said.