Chinese tourist, local pilot killed in Nepal plane crash

 Chinese tourist, local pilot killed in Nepal plane crash

KATHMANDU - A small plane crashed into a hill in a tourist city in western Nepal on Thursday, killing the pilot and the only passenger, a Chinese tourist, a police official said.

The ultra-light aircraft was flying over a lake in Pokhara when it slammed into the hill near a Buddhist monastery, Surendra Bahadur Shah, a local police chief told AFP.

"Villagers told us about the crash at 9:30 am local time. The weather was bad, it was cloudy," he said.

The passenger, a 33-year-old Chinese tourist called Zun Liu, and the pilot, who also owned the plane, were both killed in the crash, he said. Pokhara, 210 kilometres (130 miles) west of Kathmandu, is a popular tourist destination, offering paragliding, sightseeing and boating activities.

More than 5,00,000 tourists visit Nepal every year, mostly from neighbouring India and China, and tourism is one of the major contributors to the economy of the impoverished Himalayan nation.

The country has a poor road network and tourists, pilgrims and professional climbers often rely on the country's 16 domestic airlines to reach remote areas despite frequent air accidents owing to lax safety regulations.

In May, 21 people were injured, including eight Japanese tourists, when a small plane skidded off an airport in northern Nepal and plunged into a river. A private helicopter also crashed in northwestern Nepal in June, killing one local passenger and seriously injuring Italian and Nepali pilots.

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