Nepal air crash kills 10 Indians, nine others

Tragic end to eight Tamil Nadu builders tour to see Mt Everest

Nepal air crash kills 10 Indians, nine others

The crash that broke up the Beechcraft turboprop plane into pieces claimed the lives of six Nepalese, including three crew members of Buddha Air, two Americans and a Japanese national. A much-anticipated trip to Nepal for a glimpse of the majestic Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, led 10 Indian tourists, including eight construction engineers from Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, into the jaws of death.

The victims, all members of the Builders’ Association of India, had planned in advance for the trip to Nepal. After a conference in Delhi, they had gone to Nepal for sight-seeing when the tragedy struck. A couple from Gujarat were also among the dead.

DMK MP Tiruchi Siva told Deccan Herald in Chennai from New Delhi that he, along with the relatives of the victims, will go to Kathmandu early on Monday to help expedite the retrieval of the victims’ bodies and bring them back home. 

The BHA 103 flight, which crashed at 7.30 am local time, had taken tourists to view Mt Everest and other high peaks, crashed into the Kotdanda hills minutes after losing contact with the control tower, according to Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN)­.

The rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather in the region. The incident was also marked by a goof-up by Nepalese authorities who initially released a wrong list of Indians killed in the accident.

Among those killed was a Nepalese passenger who initially survived the crash but succumbed to his wounds in a hospital after being rescued from the accident site at Kotdanda, near Bishankhunarayan Temple in Lalitpur district.

Apart from 13 foreigners, the plane was carrying three Nepalese passengers and Captain J D Tamrakar, Captain P Adhikari and air hostess A Shrestha, according to the Rescue Coordination Centre, Tribhuvan International Airport, under the CAAN. Investigators found the black box flight recorder several hours after the accident and the police said a probe was on to establish the cause of the crash.

Victims identified

The Indian nationals killed in the crash were identified as Pankaj Mehta and his wife Chhaya, and  Marudachalam, Meenakshi Sundar, Dhanasekaran, Kanaga Sabesan, Thyagarajan and Kattur Mahalingam from Tamil Nadu.

The eight tourists from Tamil Nadu were staying at the Hotel Grand at Tahachal.
Fifty-seven-year-old Mehta was working as chief of the health section of Unicef, Kathmandu.

According to Mehta’s colleagues here, the couple had been here for the past three years and had possibly come from Gujarat. The two Americans killed were identified as Andrew Wade and Natalie Neilan. The Japanese national was Ujima Toshinori.

The Indian Embassy here said that it was providing all assistance for the prompt evacuation of the remains of the Indian nationals killed in the accident.

The bodies of the Indians were taken to TU Teaching Hospital after being flown to Kathmandu. Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar visited Tribhuvan International Airport here to take stock of the situation. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has formed a three-member team, headed by former CAAN director-general Jajeshraj Dali, to investigate the crash.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha expressed deep shock and conveyed her condolences to the bereaved families.

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