A small plane that was taking an arial tour of Mt. Everest earlier today, crashed amidst bad weather, killing all 19 people aboard. The flight, which is operated by Buddha Air, went down about 10 miles outside of Kathmandu while returning to the Tribhuvan International Airport there.
The $140 tour takes travelers to Mt. Everest by air and circles the mountain, offering spectacular views of the summit that most wouldn’t have a chance to see in any other way. The Beechcraft 1900D aircraft took off from Kathmandu this morning and completed the Everest flight, but was returning in rain and dense fog. Witnesses say it was flying very low and smashed into the side of a hill with a big explosion. Others indicated that they saw flames coming from the plane as it went down, indicating that it may have had mechanical problems that resulted in the crash.
In addition to the Nepali pilot, co-pilot, and flight attendant, there were two other Nepali passengers aboard, along with 10 Indian, two Americans, and one Japanese. One of those passengers reportedly survived the crash only to die at, or en route, to a hospital.
Investigators have only just begun piecing together the cause of the crash, but it could deal a blow to Nepal’s plans to lure travelers to the country to help the poor economy there.
My condolences to the friends and family of those who died in the crash.