Seven Britons were among 19 people killed when a small plane crashed soon after takeoff from Kathmandu airport, Nepal, possibly after hitting a large bird of prey.
They 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 of Britons, who arrived in Nepal on Wednesday and were due to begin trekking on Friday, were travelling with the 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 Office said the men’s families had been informed.
Speaking on his tour of Brazil, the prime minister, David Cameron, said: “It is an absolutely horrific incident and obviously I feel for the families concerned. 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.”
Five other tourists, believed to be from China, also died along with four Nepalese passengers and the plane’s crew.
The plane, a twin-engined Dornier run by a local airline, Sita Air, crashed on the banks of the Manohara river at 6.18am on Friday.
The seven Britons had planned to trek through the Khumbu region around Mount Everest. They were due to return on 16 October.
The cause of the crash has yet to be established, but a collision with a large bird was one possibility, said the deputy police chief at the Tribhuvan international airport, Superintendent Rabiraj Shrestha.
He said rubbish dumped along the sides of the airport attracted large numbers of birds and a dead eagle was recovered from among the wreckage.
“A bird might have been sucked into the engine and caused problems due to which the pilot might have taken the decision to try for an emergency landing and as a result the plane crashed,” he told reporters.
Witnesses said a fire broke out as soon as the plane made an emergency landing on the banks of the Manohara.
The flight’s destination was the small airstrip of Lukla, the start of many treks in the Everest region.
Late September and October are favoured periods for walking and mountaineering in the Nepalese Himalayas as the summer rains have cleared and winter temperatures are yet to bite.
With often hazardous weather conditions and complex terrain, accidents are common. Regulation of the domestic aviation sector is lax.
In September 2011, 19 people including 16 tourists were killed when a Buddha Air flight crashed on a similar route.
In August 2010, 14 passengers including four Americans, a Briton and a Japanese national were killed after a plane heading to the Everest region crashed owing to bad weather.
Similarly, in December 2010, all 22 passengers were killed when another plane came down.
The Foreign Office in London said: “The embassy in Kathmandu remains in contact with the Nepalese authorities.”
A spokeswoman said the ambassador to Nepal, John Tucknott, had gone to the hospital where the bodies were taken.
Concerned relatives should ring 0207 008 1500.