Nepal plane fireball horror as witnesses claim they could hear victims 'wailing and screaming' in wreckage
Desperate fight for life: The pilot reported trouble shortly after leaving Kathmandu airport and appeared to have been trying to turn back when it came down
Fireball: Firefighters battle to douse the burning wreckage of a plane after it came down in a field just minutes after takning off from Kathmandu Airport
Destroyed: The fire quickly spread to the rear, but the tail was still in one piece at the scene near the Manohara River on the south-west edge of Kathmandu
Harimaya Tamang, who lives near the crash site, said: 'The plane appeared to be on fire already before it landed. We thought the pilot was trying to force land because it was on fire and the river area had open space to land.
'The plane hit the ground, bounced once but it did not break. The plane was already on fire, the local people rushed with buckets and tried to put out the flames but it was too hot and people could not get close enough.'
The Dornier Aircraft 9N-AHA was just a kilometre away from the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu when it crashed. It was bound for Lukla, the main airport in the Everest region 35 minutes away. Airport authorities said that the pilot told them seconds before the crash how it had hit a bird - possibly an eagle.
The crew had apparently became aware of intense heat in the cabin shortly after take-off.
A spokesman for Sita Airways told the Daily Telegraph: 'There was very much heat and then the fire began. They were very close to the airport. After two or three minutes it crashed.'
Major operation: Hundreds of rescuers and members of the public swarm around the site as investigators begin to piece together the events that led up to the tragedy
Belongings: A forensic officer with a blood stained guide book and right, a Nepalese fireman and rescue workers find a British passport and money