British experts have arrived in Nepal to investigate the plane crash that killed 19 people including seven Britons heading to the Mount Everest region for a trekking holiday, the UK government said on Sunday.
Nepal's aviation ministry said two staff from the Air Accident Investigation Branch had come to Kathmandu to assist local authorities looking into the accident, which also killed four Chinese, an American and seven locals.
"Two experts from the UK have arrived in Kathmandu to assist in the investigation of the crash," Suresh Acharya, a senior official in the aviation ministry, told AFP.
"They are here under the provision of the International Civil Aviation Convention which states that experts from the country whose citizens are dead in a crash can provide expert support for the investigation process.
"The British government expressed willingness to send them and we are ready to use their expertise."
The twin-propeller Sita Air plane had just taken off on Friday from Kathmandu and was headed to the town of Lukla, the gateway to Mount Everest, when it plunged into the banks of a river near the city's airport around daybreak.
The British investigators will assist a government commission due to report on the cause of the crash within three months.
"They will visit the crash site, collect factual information and will work with the investigation commission. They will attend the first meeting of the probe committee scheduled for Sunday afternoon," Acharya said.
The youngest British victim was Ben Ogden, a 27-year-old Oxford University graduate who recently qualified as a solicitor and was a rising star at a London law firm.
Other victims include Timothy Oakes, a 57-year-old secondary school adviser, and his friend Stephen Holding, a 60-year-old retired science teacher.
Building contractor Vincent Kelly (50) and his brother, property developer Darren (45) were also killed along with Chris Davey (52) an electronics engineer, and Ray Eagle (60) a marathon runner.
The victims were too badly burned to be individually identified, hospital officials said, adding the foreigners' bodies will be handed to relatives only when the results of tests on DNA samples sent abroad have been received.
The government said on Saturday an error by a "panic-stricken" pilot was a likely cause of the accident.
Officials are also investigating whether overloading and damage to the tail fin, possibly inflicted when the plane hit a bird, may have been a factor.
"Although the probe committee will come up with the details, preliminary findings show that the aircraft was first bird-hit (and) that may have triggered the break-off of the tail fin," Rameshwore Thapa, president of the Airline Operators of Nepal, told the Kathmandu Post.