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Foreigners among 14 killed in Nepal plane crash

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Fourteen people -- including four Americans, a Japanese and British national -- were killed when their small plane crashed in bad weather in Nepal on Tuesday, an airport official said.

The Agni Air plane, returning to Kathmandu after failing to land in Lukla in eastern Nepal because of bad weather, crashed near the outskirts of the capital, Home (interior) Ministry official Jai Mukunda Khanal said.

Lukla is the gateway to Mount Everest.

"Rescuers are on the spot. Yes, we can confirm that all 14 on board the plane are dead," Kathmandu airport official Tri Ratna Manandhar told Reuters.

"Rescuers are waiting at the crash site to bring the bodies back to Kathmandu. But the work is hampered due to heavy rains," Manandhar said.

Laxman Bhattarai, a spokesman for Nepal's Tourism and Civil Aviation Ministry, said the government had formed an investigation commission to probe the cause of the crash and asked it to report within 65 days.

The U.S. embassy in Kathmandu confirmed the death of its nationals and said it was ready to assist Nepal as needed.

The plane, a German-made Dornier, had five Nepali passengers and a crew of three.

Local television channels said the plane had broken into pieces.

Eighteen people, 12 of them Germans, were killed when a small plane crashed two years ago in Lukla.

(Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Krittivas Mukherjee and Sugita Katyal)

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