Bodies of victims lie on the ground as Nepalese rescue workers inspect the site of the crash near Jomsom airport, 200 kilometers northwest of the capital, Katmandu, Nepal. (AP Photo)
Fifteen people including 13 Indian tourists were killed when a small aircraft crashed into a hill near Jomsom airport in north-central Nepal on Monday morning.
The Dornier 228 aircraft belonging to Agni Air, a private carrier, on way from the tourist town of Pokhara was carrying 18 passengers and three crew members.
"The accident took place at 9:46 am (Nepali time) while the aircraft was returning to Pokhara after failing to land in Jomsom," said Pramod Pandey, director (marketing and administration) of Agni Air.
The aircraft was carrying 16 Indians including three children and two Danish nationals besides pilot PS Pathak, co-pilot HD Maharjan and flight attendant Ragini Haiju.
The Indian nationals were on way to the Muktinath Temple, a sacred site for Hindus and Buddhists in Mustang. Jomsom is located nearly 200 kilometres north-west of Nepal's capital Kathmandu.
Indian Embassy officials in Kathmandu confirmed that 13 of those killed were Indians. The pilot and co-pilot, both Nepali, also died in the accident.
The six injured including two children, two Danish nationals and the flight attendant were airlifted to Pokhara where they have been admitted to the Manipal College of Medical Sciences hospital.
The three Indians injured in the accident are Tirumala Kidambi Shreekanth (M-40), Tirumala Kidambi Sreevardhini (F-9) and Tirumala Kidambi Sreepada (M-6)-all from Chennai.
Two Danish nationals R Andreas (M) and J Emilie (F) and flight attendant Ragini Haiju (Nepali) were also injured.
The bodies of the 13 deceased were airlifted by a Nepal Army helicopter and brought to Kathmandu eight hours after the accident and sent to Tribhuwan University Teaching Hospital for post-mortem.
According to Agni Air officials, the aircraft was 11 years old. In August 2010 another Dornier aircraft belonging to the six-year-old airlines had crashed in Makwanpur killing all 14 passengers.
This is the second major air disaster involving Indian tourists in Nepal in less than eight months.
On September 25 last year, 19 persons including 10 Indians were killed when the Buddha Air Beechcraft 1900D aircraft they were traveling crashed on the outskirts of Kathmandu.
"I am deeply saddened to hear about the tragic air crash that occurred earlier this morning near Jomsom airport in Nepal. I would like to convey my deep condolences to the families of all those who have lost their lives," External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said in a statement.
Nepal Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai also expressed his condolences to the families of all those who died and prayed for the speedy recovery of those injured.
Jomsom, the capital of Mustang district bordering Tibet, is a popular tourist destination in Nepal. It takes around 20 minutes by flight to reach the airport from Pokhara.
Indian passengers killed in the crash
The following are the names of the 13 Indians killed in the Agni Air crash in Nepal on Monday. The names have been taken from the hand-written passenger manifest and are yet to be confirmed by the airlines or the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu. The names were given by the civil aviation ministry of Nepal.
1. Mr K Chaitanya
2. Mr SK Arora
3. Mr M Handa
4. Mrs M Arora
5. Mr R Handa
6. Mr KO Arora
7. Ms T Sachdev
8. Ms G Sachdev
9. Mr Sainam Sudhar
10. Mr G Raman
11. Ms Latha Echambade
12. Mr Kumar
13. Mrs Kumar
Numbers of the control room
The embassy has released phone numbers of a control room/information centre that have been set up in Kathmandu.
00-977-1-4410900 extn. 4109
00-977-1-4411699 extn. 4109