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Americans among 14 dead in Nepal crash

Associated Press / August 25, 2010

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KATMANDU, Nepal — A small passenger plane heading to the Mount Everest region crashed in heavy rain outside Nepal’s capital, killing all 14 people aboard, including four Americans, a Briton, and a Japanese national, officials said.

The private Agni Air plane went down Tuesday near Shikharpur, about 50 miles south of Katmandu, said Ram Bahadur Shrestha, area police chief.

The German-built Dornier turboprop airplane was carrying 11 passengers and three crew members. It was headed to Lukla, a popular stop for trekkers and mountaineers, when cloud cover forced it to turn back.

Ram Bahadur Gole, a villager who witnessed the accident, told the Avenues Television network that the impact broke the plane into several pieces that were scattered on a hillside.

Tri Ratna Manandhar of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal confirmed there were no survivors. Manandhar said there were four Americans, one Briton, and one Japanese national aboard, while the remaining passengers and crew were Nepalese.

Agni Air said the foreigners were tourists.

The Americans have been identified as Irina Shekhets, 30, Leuzi Cardoso, 49, Heather Finch, 40, and Kendra Fallon, 18.

After an initial delay in reaching the crash site because of poor weather, a rescue helicopter transported some of the bodies to Katmandu late yesterday.

Lukla is the only airstrip in the Everest region. Few travel there during the monsoon season, however. It is little more than a runway carved into the Himalayas at 9,200 feet.

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