RANGOON, BURMA, OCT. 11 -- A Burma Airways twin-turboprop Fokker Friendship 27 caught fire and crashed about 20 miles short of a popular tourist town in central Burma today, killing all 49 people aboard, including 14 Americans, the government said.

The official News Agency of Burma said 36 foreigners, nine Burmese passengers and four crewmen were aboard. It was the airline's second crash in less than four months.

The agency said the plane "caught fire in midair" and crashed southeast of its destination of Pagan, a town whose ancient Buddhist temples attract many foreign tourists. The brief announcement did not give a cause.

Besides the Americans, seven Swiss citizens, five Britons, four Australians, three West Germans, two French citizens and one Thai died, the agency said. The crash came one day after diplomatic sources reported increased police protection of the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon because of reports that an anti-American terrorist group had entered Burma.

Officials would not speculate on possible links between the crash and terrorists, and no further information was available on the alleged arrival of terrorists.

Government sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the plane was on a two-hour, regularly scheduled flight from the national capital of Rangoon to Pagan, about 300 miles to the north.

A Burma Airways crash on June 21 killed 45 Burmese. In that crash, another Fokker Friendship 27 hit an 8,200-foot-high mountain minutes after takeoff from the eastern Shan State town of Heho, about 280 miles northeast of Rangoon. The government has not said what caused the June crash.

On March 25, 1978, 48 people, including 23 foreigners, were killed when a Burma Airways plane went down five miles from Rangoon Airport. That plane also was an F27, Burma Airways' mainstay aircraft. The medium-range plane was made for 30 years by the Dutch Fokker Co., with production ending last year. It also was built in the United States, by Fairchild.

In Washington, the State Department issued a list identifying 12 of the American victims:

Julie Ann Butler, Calistoga, Calif.; Edith Dallefeste, Kentfield, Calif.; Reeve Jacques, La Jolla, Calif.; Carolyn Jacques, La Jolla, Calif.; Jack Sybert, New Orleans; Riba Sybert, New Orleans; Scott Gershen, Santa Fe., N.M.; Vivian Gershen, Santa Fe, N.M.; Mary Jane O'Connor, Walnut Creek, Calif.; Constance Shepherd, Laguna Beach, Calif.; Ellen Kent Howard, Menlo Park, Calif.; Mary Christalene Griffin, Walnut Creek, Calif.