One dead in cargo plane crash near Mount Everest

Summit Air crashes at Lukla Airport, killing the captain and injuring two other crew members. PHOTO: TWITTER/BHADRA SHARMA

KATHMANDU (AFP) - A cargo plane crashed Saturday (May 27) as it was trying to land at a small airport near Mount Everest, killing the pilot and seriously injuring the two other crew members on board, officials said.

All three crew members were pulled alive from the wreckage of the plane, which broke into three pieces when it crashed as it was attempting to land at Lukla airport in heavy fog.

The pilot died shortly after reaching hospital, local police officer Madhav Budhathoki told AFP. The co-pilot and air hostess are currently undergoing treatment and are in a serious condition.

"A cargo plane has crashed in Lukla and we are trying to get more details. It crashed on approach to the airport," said Sagar Acharya of Summit Air, which operates the aircraft.

"We are not yet sure what caused the accident," he added.

Lukla airport - commonly nicknamed the most dangerous airport in the world - is the main gateway to the Everest region and sees thousands of trekkers and climbers pass through it each year.

Nepal has a poor air safety record, which is largely blamed on inadequate maintenance, inexperienced pilots and poor management.

Two deadly plane crashes last year claimed at least 25 lives, the first when a passenger plane slammed into a mountainside and the second when a small aircraft crash-landed killing the two pilots.

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

All Nepal airlines are banned from flying to the European Union because of their poor safety standards.

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