KATHMANDU: The bodies of all 19 people, including seven British and five Chinese tourists, who were burnt to death as the Sita Air's Dornier 9NAHA615 crashed near the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in the Capital on Friday morning have been sent to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) for autopsy.
If the victims' identity could not be ascertained during autopsy, samples will be taken from their charred bodies for the DNA test for proper identification.
The aircraft had taken off for Lukla, the gateway to Mount Everest, when it witnessed some technical glitches, apparently after a bird hit it soon after its take-off, according to the TIA officials.
It caught fire while making an apparent attempt for the emergency landing and got reduced to ashes on the bank of Manohara River this morning, according to Sita Air and Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN). The crash site is about 500 metres away from the TIA.
Today's is the sixth fatal air crash in Nepal in less than two years.
VISIT: SPECIAL PAGE ON SITA AIR CRASH
Security personnel stand guard near the wreckage of Sita Air Dornier plane. Photo: Sanjaya Lama/THT Online
Pilot Bijay Tandukar, co-pilot Takesi Thapa and flight attendant Ruja Shakya were the members of the crew. The Sita Air passenger list identifies the Nepali passengers as Mrs MK Tamang, Mr LN Sherpa, Mr D Rai and and Mr Kumar Moktan.
Nepal Police, on the other hand, identified as the seventh Nepali national as Kumar Moktan. He is said to be a Nepal Army soldier.
The Sita Air identified the British passengers as Mr R Eagle, Mr C Davey, Mr V Kelly, Mr D Kelly, Mr T Oakes, Mr S Holdings, Mr B Ogden.
Likewise, Chinese passengers are identifies as Mr Mingwu Qian, M Lin WU, Ms Zhihua Yang , Ms Chen Yang and Mr Hui Wu.
Though the weather was clear in the morning, the pilot had reported some problems to the air controller after two minutes of the take-off, TIA's General Manager Ratish Chandra Lal Suman said. According to him, the plane probably was trying to get back to the airport before meeting with the fatal accident.
The plane had taken off at 6:11 and crashed at around 6:30am, CAAN said in a statement.
READ ALSO: Nepalis‚ 5 Chinese‚ 7 Britons killed in air crash: CAAN
Ghanashyam Shrestha, a staffer at the Sita Air, said the pilots were trying to make an emergency landing at the TIA as a bird hit the plane soon after it took off, above the Manohara River in Madhyapur Thimi near Jadibuti soon. It tthen caught fire, he said.
Binu Khanal, an eyewitness, said she saw the plane catching fire and reducing into ashes within 10 minutes.
The Nepal Police and Nepal Army personnel, and fire brigade rushed to the crash for rescue operation. However, all the people on board the ill-flated plane had already died when the fire was contained. The fire gutted the plane's body except its rare wing.
The rescuers collected the charred bodies and the passengers' belongings from the wreckage of the plane.
On May 14 earlier this year, 15 people were killed when Agni Air Plane crashed at the Jomsom Airport in Mustang district.
British envoy visits TUTH
British Ambassador to Nepal John Tucknott visited TUTH, where the bodies have kept for post mortem, to acquire information about the victims.
The British Embassy in Kathmandu confirmed that some British nationals died in the incident. While a British Embassy spokesperson said the number and identity of the victims cannot be disclosed, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the families of the victims have all been informed.
The FCO's website has quoted Ambassador Tucknott as saying, "Our thoughts at the moment are with the friends and families of those who lost their lives this morning.
"We will be offering consular assistance to the families of those bereaved," he said, "We’ve had excellent cooperation from the Nepalese authorities and the Nepali Police and have been in touch with the local tour company who were arranging the tour for those British nationals we believe to have been on board.
"I myself have already been to Tribhuvan University hospital where the casualties were taken and have spoken to senior medical staff there and we remain in contact with them."