Thirteen Indians were among the 15 people killed when their 20-seater aircraft slammed into a cliff in western Nepal Monday, less than seven months after 10 Indian tourists were killed in an air accident. Six people miraculously survived the crash. (Helpline: 0097714423702 and 0097714410900 / Ext 4109)
The Agni Air plane, carrying 16 Indians and two Danish passengers as well as three crew members, crashed in Jomsom, known for its splendid mountain views and the starting point for major trekking routes, at about 9.45 am today.
Pramod Pandey, marketing director of Agni Air, confirmed that there were 16 Indians on board the Dornier aircraft and that there were six survivors.
Pramod Pandey, marketing director of Agni Air, said there were 16 Indians on board and that there were six survivors.
The plane had taken off from Pokhara airport at 9.30 am and crashed 15 minutes later on a cliff, while it was about to return to Pokhara following a technical glitch, Yogendra Kunwar, assistant manager at traffic control room in Pokhara airport, was quoted as saying.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Gynanedra Singh Bhandari said that the plane crashed behind the army barracks.
He also said that police and army were conducting rescue operations along with stand-by flights to carry the injured.
He added that the quick response operation could be launched as it crashed near the army barracks.
Laxmi Raj Sharma, chief district officer of Mustang, was quoted as saying that 15 bodies had been recovered, including the bodies of pilot Prabhu Sharan Pathak and co-pilot J D Maharjan.
Six passengers, including three children, two foreigners and an air hostess R Haiju, were rescued.
Those rescued were in a critical condition.
Nepalnews.com said that the passengers were going to Jomsom to pay a visit to Muktinath, a popular pilgrimage site both Hindus and Buddhists.
Monday's aircrash took place at Jomsom which is the starting point for treks like the Kagbeni, Marpha, Muktinath and Mustang treks.
Jomsom is the capital and administration headquarters of Mustang district, which stretches from the Tibetan border to Ghasa along the Kali Gandaki River.
The tragedy was a reminder of the Sep 25, 2011 aircrash in which all 19 people, mostly Indian tourists, were killed after a small plane carrying them crashed close to capital city Kathmandu.
Indians on board who lost their lives include K Mamanya, S K Arora, M Handa, M Arora, R Handa, K Arora, T Sachdev, G Sachdev, Sanaim Sudhar, G Raman, Kidambi Tirumala, Latha Echambade, Sreeva Kidamba Tirumala, Sreepada Kidamaba Tirumala and two members of the Kumar family.
The small aircraft, belonging to domestic airline Buddha Air, was flying mostly tourists on a mountain flight in northern Nepal when it crashed in Kotdanda in Lalitpur district, close to Kathmandu.
Agni Air, which began operations March 16, 2006 with one Dornier Do-228 aircraft, is now operating six aircraft, 3 Dornier-228 Aircrafts built in German and 3 Jetstream-41 built in Britain to various domestic sectors, its website said.
It flies to the popular tourist destinations such as Lukla, Tumlingtar, Biratnagar, Bhadrapur, Bhairahawa, Pokhara and Jomsom.
(With inputs from a correspondent)