12 Germans Killed in Nepal Plane Crash | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 08.10.2008
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12 Germans Killed in Nepal Plane Crash

A plane crash landed in north-eastern Nepal's Everest region killing 18 people, including a dozen Germans and two Australian nationals, officials confirmed Wednesday.

A plane landing at Lukla airport

Lukla airport's inclined runway makes it one of the world's most dangerous places to land

Aviation officials said only one person survived the crash as the Canadian built Twin Otter landed at the mountainous Lukla airport, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) north-east of the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, Wednesday, Oct. 8.

"Our preliminary investigation and reports based on witnesses suggest that the plane belonging to Yeti Airlines crashed after hitting a higher ground near the airport," said Mohan Adhikari, the director general of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.

Those killed were 12 Germans, including six women, four Nepalese and two Australians he said. Adhikari corrected earlier reports that two Swiss nationals were onboard the plane saying they were mistaken for the Australians.

Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world

The Lukla airport where the plane crashed is the gateway to Nepal's Everest region

"Only the captain of the aircraft survived and he was airlifted to Kathmandu for treatment and was in stable condition," Adhikari said, adding that severe burns were making identifying the victims difficult.

The German government was working closely with Nepalese authorities to confirm the identities of the Germans reported to be onboard, a foreign ministry spokesman told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday.

Aviation officials in Kathmandu said the plane burst into flames after it crashed and hit the airport sideways. The AFP news agency quoted Suraj Kunwar, a local journalist, who said the aircraft caught fire after it crash landed on the sloping airstrip.

"It took locals and security forces about two hours to put out the fire," Kunwar said. "Officials at the airport here have said that bad weather was the reason for the crash. There was heavy cloud when the accident occurred."

Officials said the weather and visibility were good in the area when the plane took off early in the morning but clouds had moved in by the time of the crash.

When the weather is clear, dozens of flights land daily at Lukla's Tenzing-Hillary airport, the gateway to Nepal's Everest region, which is used by thousands of trekkers and mountaineers.

The crash is the worst reported in Nepal since March when a UN-helicopter crashed and killed 10 people in stormy weather in the Ramechhap district, east of Kathmandu. In 2002, 18 people including 13 Germans, died when a small plane crashed in bad weather near Pokhara town in west Nepal. Nine people died in a similar crash in 2006.