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Foreigners killed in Nepal crash

Kathmandu, Aug. 22 (Reuters): A small plane carrying foreign tourists slammed into a mountain in Nepal today, killing all 18 people on board.

The Shangri-la Air Twin Otter carrying 13 Germans, three Nepalese crew, a Briton and an American from Jomsom to Pokhara, both popular tourist destinations, crashed in bad weather just minutes before landing, Nepalese officials said. “The plane broke into several pieces and the bodies were scattered over a small area with many trees and bushes,” Pokhara airport official Gopal Chandra Thapa said.

All the bodies have been recovered and will be flown to Kathmandu.

The crash is likely to deal another blow to the tourism industry, crippled by the massacre of King Birendra and most members of his family a year ago, a bloody Maoist insurgency and the fallout of the September 11 attacks on the US.

Officials said the industry, a major foreign exchange earner, had only begun to recover in July. Shangri-la Air deputy managing director Kishor Silwa said the plane slammed into the side of a mountain at an altitude of about 4,600 feet.

“It suddenly lost contact and crashed near Kristi Nachne Chour, five km southwest of Pokhara airport,” it said in a statement.

Silwa said Nepal did not require light planes to carry “black box” flight recorders and he believed the plane was not fitted with one.

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