Seven Britons die in inferno as stricken plane crashes in Nepal

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Seven Britons died yesterday after a plane burst into flames and crashed in Nepal, killing all 19 people on board.

The twin-engine propeller Dornier crashed shortly after take-off, landing in a field near the capital, Kathmandu.

Five Chinese people, three Nepalese passengers and four crew members were also killed, with reports suggesting the accident was caused by a bird strike.

The British group, who arrived in Nepal on Wednesday and were due to begin trekking in the Himalayas, were travelling with Hampshire-based travel company Explore Worldwide.

They were named as Raymond Eagle, 58, from Warrington, Cheshire; Timothy Oakes, 57, from Winwick, near Warrington; Vincent Kelly, 50, from Lostock, Bolton; and his brother Darren Kelly, 45, who moved from Bolton to the village of Isle of Whithorn in southern Galloway a few years ago.

Christopher Davey, 51, Stephen Holding, 60, and lawyer Benjamin Ogden, 27, from London, also perished.

The plane, belonging to Nepal’s domestic airline Sita Air, was heading towards Lukla, the gateway to Mount Everest and a popular destination for trekkers.

The pilot reported trouble two minutes after take-off, and the plane appeared to have been trying to turn back to the airport.

Witnesses said they heard screaming coming from inside the aircraft before it crashed and the front section of the plane was on fire when it hit the ground.

It appeared the pilot attempted to land the plane on open ground beside a river.

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.”

The fire quickly spread to the rear, but the tail was still in one piece at the crash site.

Last night Angie Gaunt, the wife of Mr Oakes, said he was on the trip of a lifetime.

“He lived life to the full and died doing something he always wanted to do,” she said.

“It should never deter people from living out their dreams.

“He was a mountaineer and he always wanted to go to Everest base camp, not climb it, to go to the base camp, and that’s what he was doing.

“He was going because he always wanted to see Everest. It was the trip of a lifetime, he had always wanted to do it.

“If you love the mountains, it is the ultimate.

“When you live, if you live your life to the full, you take risks.

“People have got to live and enjoy what they want to do. That is exactly what Tim would want people to do.”

Ashley Toft, managing director of Explore Worldwide, said he and his staff had been left “devastated” by the tragedy.

He said: “Our thoughts are very much with the families of those affected, both in the UK and in Nepal.

“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.”

The group’s tour guide, a local Nepalese, was also on board the flight.

The company has offered treks to Nepal for more than 30 years, taking about 1,000 tourists each year.

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