Kathmandu airport plane crash kills 19 – including seven Britons planning Everest Base Camp trek.
Seven Britons were among the 19 people killed when a small plane crashed shortly after take-off from Kathmandu, Nepal after reportedly hitting a large bird.
Ben Ogden, 27, Raymond Eagle, 58, Christopher Davey, 51, brothers Vincent and Darren Kelly, aged 50 and 45, Timothy Oakes, 57 and Stephen Holding, 60, all died in the accident.
Steve Holding and Tim Oakes were BMC club members - long-standing members of the London Mountaineering Club - and Raymond Eagle was an individual BMC member.
The Nepalese Police say that everyone on board the twin-engine propeller-driven Dornier aircraft died in the accident, also including five Chinese and seven Nepalese.
British Ambassador to Nepal, John Tucknott, speaking earlier today said:
"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.
"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."
The Britons were travelling as a group with Nepalese tour operator Sherpa Adventures. The company said the group had arrived in Nepal on Wednesday and were flying to the airstrip at Lukla to begin the Everest Base Camp trek, together with their two Nepalese leaders.
The group were booked through Explore Worldwide, the Farnborough-based adventure travel company. Explore Worldwide has confirmed that the Britons were its clients.
Ashley Toft, the travel company's managing director, said: "We are devastated by this news. Our thoughts are very much with the families of those affected, both in the UK and in Nepal. Sita Air operates scheduled flights and is approved by airline authorities. The weather was good. The plane was departing for Lukla and our passengers were heading for Everest Base Camp at the start of their trek."
Mountaineer Alan Hinkes has been on BBC, explaining how he has taken the flight from Kathmandu to Lukla many times and that any problems usually occurred at the Lukla end:
"The landing strip in Lukla is a bit like an aircraft carrier with a mountain at the end of it, with a 1,000ft drop at the end of the runway. Normally crashes happen at that end. It is not the safest place to fly, I must admit, but it is what you have to do to get into the mountains."
Twitter is awash with information and reports - including first-hand accounts from Kathmandu.
Joe Simpson, author of Touching the Void and experienced mountaineer, tweeted: "Sad news 19 dead in Kathmandu-Lukla crash. Always scared me that one."
BMC Chief Executive Dave Turnbull said: "This is shocking news and our thoughts are with the friends and families of the trekkers who died. The recent avalanches on Mont Maudit and Manaslu were a stark reminder that the high mountains can be dangerous places. We tend to take air travel for granted these days but this plane crash is a further reminder of the risks involved."
This incident is the sixth fatal crash in Nepal in less than two years. In this Himalayan nation, flying conditions are often difficult and pilots and planes often have to face bad weather and difficult landing strips.
Nepal is a very popular trekking destination. Many trekkers head to the Everest Base Camp trek and surrounding treks every year. However, access to the start of the treks is difficult in this mountainous nation and it is usual to fly in small aircraft to local landing strips such as Lukla.
In a twist of fate, today is the 20th anniversary of another Kathmandu air crash that killed, amongst others, four instructors from the Plas y Brenin national mountain centre: Mick and Sue Hardwick, Dave Harries and Ali Cope in 1992. Following this, the Kathmandu Memorial Bursary was set up by the families.
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