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Nepal launches probe of plane crash

world Updated: Oct 09, 2008 12:50 IST
Nepal launches investigation of plane crash

Nepal has launched an investigation of a plane crash at a small airport near Mount Everest that killed 18 people, including 16 tourists from Germany, Australia and Nepal.

The four-person commission to investigate the crash was announced in a statement from the government tourism ministry late on Wednesday night. The commission, to be led by a senior government lawyer, has two months to submit its report.

The Yeti Airlines plane crashed Wednesday morning as it tried to land in foggy weather at Lukla airport, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) from Mount Everest. It had taken off from Katmandu.

The DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter burst into flames after the crash. Only one person, the pilot, survived.

There were 19 people on board, including 12 German, two Australian and two Nepalese tourists. There were also three Nepalese crew members. The pilot, who has been hospitalized in Katmandu, is expected to survive.

The tiny Lukla airport, little more than a runway carved into the side of the Himalayas at an altitude of 2,800 meters (9,200 feet), is famous among travelers for its dramatic scenery, stomach-lurching landings and occasional crashes. The runway ends in a steep drop of a few hundred meters (feet).

The airport is an important jumping-off point for trekkers and mountaineers heading to Everest.

In 2005, nine passengers and three crew members survived a crash at the airport in a small plane with minor injuries.