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19 die in Nepal air crash

world Updated: Dec 17, 2010 00:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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All 19 passengers killed in an air crash in eastern Nepal on Wednesday have been identified as Bhutanese nationals. Three Nepali crew members also lost their lives in the accident.

The small Twin Otter aircraft belonging to Tara Air had gone missing on way from Lamidanda to Kathmandu on Wednesday. Its crashed remains were located at Okhaldhunga on Thursday morning.

Initially there was confusion about identities of the passengers as the Bhutanese nationals had booked tickets using Nepali names to avail discounts on tickets given to Nepali citizens.

All the passengers were returning from a trip to Haleshi Mahadev, a popular temple in Khotang district, when their aircraft lost contact with the ground five minutes after take-off.

Two rescue helicopters located the aircraft on Thursday morning. Initial reports suggest that it may have crashed into a mountain after losing contact due to poor visibility.

The bodies of all the 22 victims were airlifted to Kathmandu by helicopters on Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a nine-member team from Bhutan led by the country's cabinet secretary reached Kathmandu to identify the passengers and take their bodies back.

The Nepal government has ordered an inquiry into the accident, the second air crash in the country this year after another in August had claimed 14 lives including that of six foreigners.