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Nepal says pilot error likely cause of Everest plane crash

Published on Sep 29, 2012 4:21 PM
People gather near a burning Dornier aircraft after it crashed in Kathmandu on Sept 28, 2012. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

KATHMANDU (AFP) - Nepal's aviation ministry said on Saturday that pilot error was the likely cause of a plane crash that killed all 19 on board, including seven British and five Chinese trekkers bound for Mount Everest.

The twin-propeller Sita Air plane had just taken off on Friday from Kathmandu and was headed to the town of Lukla, gateway to Mount Everest, when it plunged into the banks of a river near the city's airport around daybreak.

"The pilot's failure to maintain the required radius is a likely cause of the accident," said ministry official Suresh Acharya, adding that the plane turned too sharply because it had not gained enough altitude.

The airport said on Friday the plane's right engine burst into flames after being hit by a large bird, and slammed into a river bank moments later, exploding into a huge fireball.

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