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Plane crashes in Nepal, killing 15

From Manesh Shrestha, for CNN
updated 5:07 AM EDT, Tue May 15, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Six people survive a plane crash in central Nepal
  • NEW: The survivors include 2 Danes and 3 Indians
  • The 13 other Indian passengers on the flight were killed
  • The plane had been trying to land at the airport at Jomsom when it went down

Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) -- A small plane crashed after it was unable to land in a mountainous area of Nepal on Monday, killing 15 of the 21 people on board, aviation officials said.

The plane was about a mile from the airport at Jomsom, a popular tourist town in central Nepal, when it went down, said Purusottam Shakya, deputy director of air traffic service operations in Kathmandu. It was operated by Agni Air, a Nepalese carrier.

Six of the 21 people on board somehow survived the impact. They include an air hostess, two Danish passengers and three Indian passengers, said Bindesh Lal Karna, an official for the Rescue Coordination Committee at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.

Of the Indian survivors, two are children aged 6 and 9, while the other is a man who is now in intensive care, according to Karna.

The thirteen other Indian passengers on the plane and the two other crew members were killed.

The survivors were airlifted to the town of Pokhara, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) west of Kathmandu.

According to Karna, the crash occurred after a technical problem prevented the plane from landing normally after a flight from Pokhara.

Karna said the pilot decided to turn the plane around and head back to Pokhara, but as he did so, the plane dropped out of the air.

Jomsom is the gateway to Muktinath Temple, a pilgrimage site for Hindus from Nepal and India. The temple is about six hours' walk from the airport, in the Annapurna range of mountains, a part of the Himalayas popular among hiking enthusiasts.

The crash is the second disaster to hit the Annapurna region in less than two weeks.

On May 5, a flash flood swept away houses near a river that flows down from the mountain range. Thirty-one bodies have been recovered from the flooding, while 40 people are still missing, according to the local police.

CNN's Samira Said and Harmeet Shah Singh contributed to this report.

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