New Delhi: A small Dornier plane belonging to a private company crashed in the mountains of Nepal on Monday morning killing 14 people including 13 Indian pilgrims. The plane belonging to Agni Air had 21 people on board including three crew members. It crashed after hitting a hill top while attempting to land at the Jomsom airport in northern Nepal, said an official at the Rescue Coordination Committee of Tribhuvan International Airport.
Only seven people on board, including three Indians, could be rescued from the crash site. The injured people were taken to a hospital in Pokhara where condition of the three Indians were critical. Reports said that there were 16 Indians among the 18 passengers on board the plane.
The passengers had chartered the flight to take them from the central tourist hub of Pokhara to Muktinath, a famous Hindu pilgrimage in Jomsom near Tibetan border at the foot of the Thorong La Himalayan mountain pass, the official said.
The high-altitude Jomsom airport, about 200 km northwest of the capital, is a gateway to a popular tourism and trekking destination situated more than 2,600 m above sea level.
Indian Embassy officials said they were trying to collect the details as there was some confusion over the nationalities of the passengers on board the ill-fated plane.
Agni Air marketing manager Pramod Pandey said two Danish nationals were also among the passengers.
"It's not that much difficulty to land at the Jomsom airport. We are using experienced pilots over there. So, this pilot who flying this aircraft has a lot of flying hours," he added.
The plane turned into pieces but did not caught fire. The bodies of Pilot Prabhu Sharan Pathak and Co-pilot JD Maharjan have been recovered.
India has set up round-the-clock helplines in its embassy in Kathmandu to provide information on the air crash in Nepal.
According to official sources, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna was "directly" in touch with country's Ambassador to Nepal.
"I am deeply saddened to hear about the tragic air crash that occurred earlier this morning near Jomsong airport in Nepal. I would like to convey my deep condolences to the families of all those who have lost their lives in this accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all those who have lost their near and dear ones," the minister said.
List of Indian passengers on board the Agni Air plane that crashed: K Mamanya, SK Arora, M Handa, M Arora, R Handa, K Arora, T Sachdev, G Sachdev, Sanaim Sudhar, G Raman, Kidambi Tirumala, Latha Echambade, Sreeva Kidambi Tirumala, Sreepada Kidambi Tirumala, Mr Kumar and Mrs Kumar.
(With additional inputs from PTI)