Seven Britons killed when a small plane crashed shortly taking off from the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, have been identified by a local travel company.
Sherpa Adventures said Raymond Eagle, 58, Christopher Davey, 51, Vincent Kelly, 50, Darren Kelly, 45, Timothy Oakes, 57, Stephen Holding, 60, and Benjamin Ogden, 27, were among the 19 people killed.
The Foreign Office said the families of the victims had been informed.
Five Chinese and seven Nepalese also died when the twin-engine propeller-driven Dornier aircraft crashed.
Owned by private firm Sita Air, the plane had taken off for Lukla in the Mount Everest region when it plunged into the banks of the Manohara River near Tribhuvan Airport.
The British group had arrived in Nepal on Wednesday and were due to begin trekking in the northeastern Khumbu region, around Everest.
Farnborough-based Explore Worldwide said the seven Britons had organised their trips through them. Their Nepalese tour guide was also on the flight.
Ashley Toft, Explore’s Managing Director, told Sky News: “They had spent a day or two in Kathmandu. They were heading to Lukla … to start a circular trek up into the Everest region.
“It was almost three weeks trekking up to Everest base camp which offers wonderful views of Everest. For many people it would have been the trip of a lifetime.”
When asked about the airline’s safety, Mr Toft said: “We have to go through a number of due diligence processes to ensure that any flight companies we use as part of our trips are as safe as they can be.”
The Dornier 228′s pilot reported trouble two minutes after take-off in clear weather and Kathmandu airport official Ratish Chandra Suman said the plane had hit a bird.
“Immediately after the take-off, the air traffic controllers noticed the aircraft making unusual manoeuvres,” he said.
“When the controller asked the pilot about it, he said the plane had struck a bird.”
Nepal Police spokesman Binod Singh said: “The pilots seem to have tried to land it safely on the banks of the river but unfortunately the plane caught fire.”
Nepal police officer Rajan Adhikari said: “The plane was engulfed in flames when we arrived.”
Local television channels showed dozens of soldiers and police officers picking through the smouldering wreckage of the aircraft with a large crowd of shocked bystanders watching.
A number of badly-burned bodies were laid in a line a few metres from the plane’s shattered fuselage.
A witness told Kantipur Television: “I was just walking and saw a plane landing. It was on fire and I even heard people inside the plane screaming.”
Harimaya Tamang, who lives near the crash site, said: “The plane hit the ground, bounced once but it did not break.
“The plane was already on fire, the local people rushed with buckets and tried to put out the flames but it was too hot and people could not get close enough.”
It is the sixth fatal crash in Nepal in less than two years. Aircraft and pilots often have to contend with bad weather and difficult landing strips in the Himalayan nation.
Britain’s Ambassador To Nepal John Tucknott visited the hospital where the bodies of the victims were taken.
He told Sky News: “Our thoughts at the moment are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives.”
Asked about the cause of the crash, he 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.”
Thousands of Westerners head to the Himalayas every year to trek in the region around Mt Everest, the world’s highest peak. Autumn is the peak climbing season in Nepal.
More than 377,000 tourists arrived in Kathmandu in the first eight months of this year, according to the tourism board.
The country has a poor road network and large numbers of tourists, pilgrims and climbers rely on Nepal’s 16 domestic airlines and 49 airports to reach remote areas.
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