KATMANDU – A twin-engined Nepal Airlines propeller plane with 22 people on board overshot a runway Thursday and crashed in river in western Nepal, leaving its three-member crew and five Japanese tourists injured, a district official said.
The Twin Otter plunged into the Kaligandaki River at around 8:30 a.m. while trying to land at Jomsom airstrip in the Mustang district 250 km northwest of Katmandu, Laxmi Raj Sharma, the district’s chief government administrator, told Kyodo News by telephone.
Initial reports said all 22 people on board, including several foreign tourists, survived the crash unharmed, but Sharma said nine are being treated for injuries, with the pilot, copilot, cabin attendant and one Japanese passenger seriously hurt.
The passengers included eight Japanese tourists, seven female and one male.
The Nepali guide for the eight said five of his clients were injured in the crash of the state-owned airliner.
“One Japanese woman has a fractured hip. The other four have minor injuries. The good thing is everyone is conscious and can talk,” said Lhakpa Nuru Sherpa, who was not injured in the crash.
He spoke by phone from Gandaki Hospital in the tourist city of Pokhara, where all the injured were flown by helicopter for treatment.
The Japanese tourist group arrived in Nepal on Tuesday for a 12-day trip to the famous Muktinath Temple in Mustang.
A trekking agency in Katmandu handling their tour identified them as Sachiyo Kawabe, Hiromi Yazawa, Yaeko Yazawa, Akiko Abe, Etsuko Terada, Hiroko Kawakami, Etsuko Sato and Hajime Namba.
The plane was traveling from Pokhara, in western Nepal, to the Jomsom airstrip in Mustang when it overshot the runway and ended up in the river, badly damaging the forward part of the fuselage.
Mustang is popular with foreign trekkers in the mountainous Annapura region and for Hindu pilgrims.