05/14/2012, 00.00
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Tourist Plane crashes in Himalayas, 12 dead

The plane crashed on landing. Eight people survived, but in serious condition. The aircraft was travelling to Jomsom, an important destination for religious pilgrimages and trekking in the Himalayas.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - A tourist aircraft carrying 21 people crashed this morning in Jomsom (Pokhara, Nepal North). 12 passengers died on impact, including four Indians. The eight survivors were hospitalized in critical condition. According to Raj Laxmi, governor of the district of Pokhara, the private company Agri Air plane crashed into a hill during landing maneuvers at Jomsom. After impact the plane fell apart, but did not explode, this allowed rescuers to pull survivors from the rubble.

Jomsom Airport is one of the most important hubs for tourism in the Himalayas and is about 200 km north of Kathmandu. The area is also famous for the religious pilgrimage to the Hindu temple of Muktinath and the ancient Bon Buddhist monastery.

Aviation accidents are frequent on the slopes of the Himalayas due to fog and bad weather. On 26 September 2011, an aircraft used for tours around Mount Everest has crashed due to fog. 19 people died in the disaster. In December 2010 a plane carrying around 22 people, crashed into a mountain shortly after takeoff from a small airstrip 140 kilometers east of Kathmandu. The passengers were mostly Bhutanese citizens on pilgrimage who had chartered a plane to visit a site sacred Buddhist area. In November 2010 a helicopter disintegrated against a rock wall near Mount Everest, during a rescue mission to save two stranded climbers. Three months earlier in the Everest region, another plane had crashed because of bad weather, killing 14 people.

Planes are one of the principal modes of transport for the people of Nepal. Nepal has a limited network of roads and many communities in the mountains and hills are accessible only on foot or by plane. (N.C.)


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