2 dead after plane with 11 on board crashes in Nepal, 2 days after previous fatal plane crash

An aircraft belonging to Tara Air is pictured at Tenzing Hillary Airport in Nepal.
An aircraft belonging to Tara Air is pictured at Tenzing Hillary Airport in Nepal.PHOTO: REUTERS

KATHMANDU (AFP/REUTERS/THE KATHMANDU POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Two pilots were killed after a small plane crashed in western Nepal on Friday (Feb 26), an official said, just days after 23 people were killed in a similar accident in the Himalayan nation.

The passenger plane with 11 people on board made a "forced landing" in western Nepal on Friday (Feb 26), but there were no immediate reports of fatalities, an official said.

The incident came two days after a Twin Otter turboprop plane crashed into a mountainside in Nepal, killing all 23 people on board.

The nine passengers aboard the aircraft were injured in the crash, army officer Tara Bahadur Karki said.

"The two pilots are dead, the nine passengers are injured," said Mr Bhola Prasad Guragain, a spokesman for the Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu.

"The plane made a forced landing in Kalikot," aviation official Pratap Babu Tiwari told AFP, referring to a district in western Nepal. It was not clear what forced the plane to land and Mr Tiwari said he had no immediate information on casualties.

A search-and-rescue party had set out for the crash site on foot, chief district official Pradeep Shrestha said.

Nepal Army spokesman Tara Bahadur Karki said a joint team of Nepal Police and Army has been dispatched to the area, which is near Chilkhaya village in the district.

"We will get more information once the team reaches the site," Mr Karki said.

Nepalgunj air traffic control said some passengers are suspected to have sustained major injuries.

The single-engine 9N-AJB Air Kastamandap plane was carrying nine passengers and two crew members when it took off at 12.16pm local time from an airport in the town of Nepalgunj, 300km west of Kathmandu. It was heading to Jumla.

According to Nepal police spokesman Madhav Raj Joshi, the plane had diverted from Jumla after it failed to land there.

The plane was being flown by Captain Dinesh Neupane and co-pilot Santosh Rana.

The passengers on board were named as Ganesh Bhattachan, 35; Megh Raj Giri, 35; Jagadamba Khatri, 25; Sonali Bhattachan, 16; Laxmi Sunar, 30; Govinda Bhandari, age unknown; Laxman Khadka, 34; Dhananjaya Khatri, 31; and one child.

The incident spotlights the poor safety record of Nepal's aviation industry, particularly after Wednesday's crash in bad weather in the same region, which was the country's second air disaster in as many years.

Air travel is popular in Nepal, which has only a limited road network. Many communities, particularly in the mountains and hills, are accessible only on foot or by air.

The country, which is still reeling from a devastating earthquake last April, has suffered a number of air disasters in recent years, dealing a blow to its tourist industry.

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