Tourist flight crashes in Nepal, killing 19 aboard

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) - September 25, 2011

Ten Indians, two Americans and one Japanese were among the victims, Tourism Secretary Ganeshraj Joshi said.

The turboprop plane belonging to Buddha Air was also carrying three Nepalese passengers and three crew members when it crashed in Bisankunarayan village, just a few miles (kilometers) south of the capital, Katmandu.

A witness, Haribol Poudel, told Avenues Television that the plane hit the roof of a house in the village and broke into several pieces. No casualties were reported on the ground.

Poudel said it was foggy and visibility was very low in the mountainous area.

Rewant Kuwar, an official at Katmandu's international airport rescue office, said 18 bodies were pulled out of the plane's wreckage, and another victim died after being rushed to a hospital.

The two Americans were identified as Andrew Wade and Natalie Neilan, while the Japanese citizen was Toshinori Uejima. Their hometowns and other details were not immediately known.

The Beechcraft 1900D plane - manufactured by Raytheon Aircraft, now known as Hawker Beechcraft - had taken the passengers to view Mount Everest and other peaks on a one-hour "mountain flight" and was returning to Katmandu.

The government ordered an investigation into the crash.

The weather on Sunday morning was foggy and the visibility was poor around Katmandu, according to meteorologist Rajendra Shrestha. The surrounding mountains were enveloped in fog and it was raining at the time of the crash.

The bodies were flown by army helicopter to Katmandu airport and transported to the Tribhuwan University Teaching Hospital for post-mortems.

Relatives of the Nepalese victims waited outside the hospital to claim the bodies, but were told by police that they would only be able to do so on Monday. Most Nepalese believe that people have to be cremated within a day of their deaths.

Officials from the Indian and U.S. embassies visited the hospital but did not speak to media.

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