Nepalese Aircraft With 72 Passengers, Including Five Indians, Crashes In Pokhara; 68 Killed
At least 68 people were killed when a Nepalese passenger plane with 72 people onboard crashed into a river gorge while landing at the newly-opened airport.
At least 68 people were killed when a Nepalese passenger plane with 72 people onboard, including five Indians, crashed into a river gorge while landing at the newly-opened airport in central Nepal's resort city of Pokhara on Sunday, a rescue official said.
Yeti Airlines' 9N-ANC ATR-72 aircraft took off from Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport at 10:33 am and crashed on the bank of the Seti River between the old airport and the new airport, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).
"So far, dead bodies of 68 people have been recovered from the crash site,” an official at the Search and Rescue, Coordination Committee of the CAAN told PTI over the phone.
However, the dead bodies are yet to be identified, he added. Efforts are on to recover four more bodies, he said.
Foreign nationals onboard the plane included five Indians, four Russians, two Koreans, an Australian, a French, an Argentine and an Israeli. There is no information about any survivor so far, said Sudarshan Bartaula, spokesperson at Yeti Airlines.
“The weather in Pokhara was absolutely fine and the engine of the aircraft was also in good condition,” he said. “We don't know what has happened to the airplane,” he said.
However, some local media reported that the aircraft took a wider turn while attempting to land, which may have caused the accident. It was a new airport built under a Chinese soft loan and inaugurated just two weeks ago.
The five Indians have been identified as Abhisekh Kushwaha, Bishal Sharma, Anil Kumar Rajbhar, Sonu Jaiswal and Sanjaya Jaiswal.
Other foreign nationals included: four Russians, two Koreans, an Australian, an Irish national, an Argentinian, and a French national.
The plane was piloted by Captain Kamal K. C. and Assistant Captain Anju Khatiwada.
According to Tek Bahadur KC, Chief District Officer of the Kaski district, the plane crashed into the Seti River Gorge. Rescue operations are currently being conducted, he was quoted as saying by The Himalayan Times newspaper.
Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, 'Prachanda' called an emergency meeting of the Council of Ministers following the crash.
He expressed sadness over the crash and directed the Home Ministry, security personnel, and all the government agencies to carry out immediate rescue and relief operations.
Images and videos posted on social media platforms showed plumes of smoke billowing from the crash site.
Nepal has had a fraught record of aviation accidents, partly due to its sudden weather changes and airstrips located in hard-to-access rocky terrain.
The last major air accident in Nepal happened on May 29, when all 22 people onboard, including four members of an Indian family, were killed when a Tara Air plane crashed in Nepal's mountainous Mustang district.
In 2016, all 23 people aboard were killed when a plane of the same airline flying the same route crashed after takeoff.
In March 2018, a US-Bangla Air crash occurred at the Tribhuvan International Airport, killing 51 people on board.
A Sita Air flight crashed in September 2012 while making an emergency landing at the Tribhuvan International Airport, killing 19 people.
A plane flying from Pokhara to Jomsom crashed near Jomsom airport on May 14, 2012, killing 15 people.