Nineteen people, including 10 Indians, were killed when a Beechcraft turboprop airplane owned by Nepal’s largest domestic flight operator, Buddha Air, crashed near Kathmandu on Sunday.
The plane crashed while attempting to land after an aerial viewing trip of Mt Everest and other high peaks. The passengers were 10 Indians, two Americans, one Japanese and six Nepali nationals. The rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather.
The BHA 103 flight, which crashed at 7.30 am local time, had broken into pieces at the Kotdanda hills, minutes after losing contact with the control tower, according to Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
Of the 10 Indians, eight were from a group of Tiruchirappalli-based builders. All members of the Builders' Association of India, they were in New Delhi from September 21 for an industry conference and had planned in advance for the trip to Nepal. An Indian couple from Gujarat was also killed.
Buddha Air, a privately owned airline, is promoted by the country’s former minister of finance and industry, Surendra Bahadur Basnet.
A family-owned company, it started operations in 1996.
According to the company’s website, it has the largest fleet among Nepal’s domestic airliners in operation, with four 18 seat Beechcraft-1900 D, three 47 seat ATR-42 and one 72 seat ATR 72-500.
Surendra Bahadur Basnet was appointed a judge in the Supreme Court of Nepal in 1964.
Two years later, he was made election commissioner. He was later appointed minister of education and law and then for finance and industry. In 1970, he became the first chairman of the Press Council of Nepal.
PTI adds: The rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather in the region. The Indian nationals killed in the crash were identified as Pankaj Mehta and his wife Chhaya, and eight men from Tamil Nadu — M V Marathachalam, M Manimaran, V M Kanakasabesan, A K Krishnan, R M Minaxi Sunsaram, K Thiyagarajan, T Dhanasekaran and Kattoos Mahalingam. 57-year-old Mehta was working as chief of the health section of UNICEF, Kathmandu.
According to Mehta’s colleagues here, the couple had been here for the past three years and had possibly come from Gujarat.
The two Americans killed were identified as Andrew Wade and Natalie Neilan, while the Japanese national was identified as Ujima Toshinori.
The three crew members killed in the crash were Captain J D Tamrakar, Captain P Adhikari and air hostess A Shrestha. A Simrik Airlines helicopter landed at the accident site at Kotdanda and transported the dead to Kathmandu, according to Chief District Officer Ratna Raj Pandey. Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar visited the Tribhuvan International Airport here to take stock of the situation, especially handling of the bodies.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has formed a three-member team, headed by former CAAN Director General Jajeshraj Dali, to investigate the crash. In a statement, the Indian embassy here expressed profound grief over the death of the Indian nationals in the crash.