Plane 'Crashes In Northern Nepal'

Police in Nepal say a plane carrying 21 people has crashed in the north of the country.

Survivors were air-lifted to hospital in the nearby city of Pokhara

A plane carrying 21 people has crashed while trying to land at an airport in the north of Nepal, leaving 15 dead.

Police say that six survivors are being treated at a hospital in the city of Pokhara. Many of the dead and injured are Indian nationals.

The Agni Air plane hit a hillside as it tried to land at Jomsom airport, a hub for trekkers and religious pilgrims.

Aviation accidents involving small aircraft are not uncommon in mountainous Nepal.

The Dornier aircraft was carrying 18 passengers and three crew members, and had been travelling to Jomsom from the city of Pokhara.

Thirteen Indian passengers and two Nepali pilots were killed in the crash, Jomsom police official Basanta Ranjit said.

Rescue workers are at the crash site and police say the six injured being treated at Pokhara's Manipal hospital include an air stewardess, two Danish passengers and three Indians, two of them infants.

Aviation officials said helicopters have been despatched to bring the bodies of those killed.

The Indian passengers were said to be flying to visit the sacred Muktinath temple, which is close to Jomsom and a popular destination for Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims.

Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna expressed his condolences: "I hope that the Almighty will grant families' strength to bear their loss with fortitude."

The plane crashed at about 09:45 local time (04:00 GMT), reportedly as it was turning to land at the airport.

"It hit a muddy slope and the plane is now buried in the side of the hill," police spokesman Binod Singh told the AFP news agency.

Nepal's treacherous mountainous terrain coupled with adverse weather conditions poses a formidable challenge to pilots.

But police say the weather in the area was fine at the time of the crash so investigators are considering possible technical faults.

Last year 19 people were killed when a plane carrying tourists to view Mount Everest crashed outside Kathmandu.