Seven Britons die in Nepal crash

Hillingdon Times: A Nepalese soldier and firefighter display a British passport and some US dollars found at the aircraft crash site in Nepal (AP) A Nepalese soldier and firefighter display a British passport and some US dollars found at the aircraft crash site in Nepal (AP)

Seven British tourists were among 19 people who have died in a plane crash in Nepal.

The British victims were identified by local travel company Sherpa Adventures as Raymond Eagle, 58, Christopher Davey, 51, Vincent Kelly, 50, Darren Kelly, 45, Timothy Oakes, 57, Stephen Holding, 60, and Benjamin Ogden, 27.

The group, which arrived in Nepal on Wednesday and was due to begin trekking later on Friday, was travelling with Hampshire-based travel company Explore Worldwide.

Managing director Ashley Toft 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."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the families of the victims have all been informed.

Mr Toft said the plane belonged to Nepal's domestic airline Sita Air, which is approved by airline authorities, adding: "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. We have no more information at present."

The twin-engine propeller Dornier plane crashed shortly after take-off at about 6.15am local time near Nepal's capital, Kathmandu. Five Chinese people and three passengers and four crew members from the Himalayan country were also killed, with reports suggesting the accident was caused by a bird strike.

The British ambassador to Nepal, John Tucknott, told Sky News: "Regretfully all those on board perished. Our thoughts at the moment are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives." Asked about the cause of the crash, Mr Tucknott said: "This is not the time to speculate, obviously there will be an air crash investigation and clearly we will have to wait to see what they find caused the air crash."

The plane was heading east towards Lukla, the gateway to Mount Everest and a popular destination for trekkers, when it crashed near the Manohara River to the south west of the city. The pilot reported trouble two minutes after take-off, and Tribhuvan International Airport official Ratish Chandra Suman said the plane appeared to have been trying to turn back to the airport.

Responding to news of the crash in Nepal during his visit to Brazil, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "It is an absolutely horrific incident and obviously I feel for the families concerned. We are doing everything we can to inform the next of kin. I know our ambassador in Nepal is on the case and on the spot dealing with it. Obviously we will have to find out exactly what happened."

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