Nepal said Saturday an error by a “panic-stricken” pilot likely caused the crash of an Everest-bound plane that killed all 19 on board. The twin-propeller Sita Air plane had just taken off on Friday from Kathmandu and was headed to the town of Lukla, gateway to Mount Everest, when it plunged into the banks of a river near the city’s airport around daybreak. “The pilot’s failure to maintain the required radius is a likely cause of the accident,” said senior ministry official Suresh Acharya, adding the plane turned too sharply because it had not gained enough altitude. The Dornier aircraft, which crashed minutes after take-off, was headed for Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, killing the 19 people on board, including British and Chinese Everest-bound trekkers. The plane’s right engine burst into flames after being hit by a large bird, causing the aircraft to plummet into the river bank and explode into a huge fireball. “The preliminary finding of the Civil Aviation Authority notices unusual manoeuvring during the takeoff and the pilot communicated to air traffic control the aircraft was hit by a bird,” said Acharya.