Police hand over black box in Nepal plane crash

  • AFP, Kathmandu
  • |
  • Updated: Sep 29, 2012 12:55 IST

Police on Saturday handed over the black box data recorder of a plane that crashed on the outskirts of the Nepalese capital killing all 19 people on board to authorities probing the accident.

The twin-propeller Sita Air plane had just taken off on Friday from Kathmandu and was headed to the town of Lukla, gateway to Mount Everest, when it plunged into the banks of a river near the city's airport around daybreak.

Among the dead were seven Britons, five Chinese and seven local passengers and crew.

"We have taken out the data recorder and handed it over to the civil aviation authorities. The rescue work at the site has ended," national police spokesman Binod Singh said.

"It has been difficult to identify the bodies and DNA tests may be carried out before they are handed over to the relatives."

The British group, the youngest of whom was 27 and the oldest 60, was travelling to the Khumbu area, their agency Sherpa Adventures told AFP.

They had been due to go on a 16-day trek to three high passes and the Everest Base Camp.

Although the exact cause of the crash is still unclear, the manager of Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu said the pilot had reported hitting a bird of prey, thought to be a vulture or kite, moments before the crash.

Witnesses described hearing the screams of passengers and seeing flames coming from one of the plane's wings moments before it hit the ground.

The crash was the sixth fatal air accident in Nepal in the last two years and has raised fresh questions about safety in the impoverished Himalayan country, home to challenging weather, treacherous landing strips and lax safety standards.

Nepal has a poor road network, meaning that large numbers of tourists, pilgrims and professional climbers often rely on the country's 16 domestic airlines and 49 airports to reach remote areas


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