When a plane with 72 people on board crashed in Nepal, it was the deadliest aviation accident in the Himalayan country in 30 years. At least 68 people were confirmed dead, and hope for any survivors was fading.
“Thirty-one bodies have been taken to hospitals,” a police official named Ak Chhetri said. He also said that 36 more bodies were still in the 300-meter gorge where the plane crashed in Pokhara, in central Nepal.
The Army said they were able to find 66 bodies in the wreckage of the crash, but it was hard to save people because the ground was so rough. The plane crashed into a gorge, making it hard to get the bodies out. Search and rescue are still happening. A spokesman for the Army, Krishna Prasad Bhandari, said that no survivors have been found yet.
Hundreds of army and police rescue workers were sent to the scene. Sunday night, the rescue operation came to an end, but officials said there were still more bodies to be found.
It was Nepal’s worst aviation accident since 1992, when 167 people died when a Pakistan International Airlines flight crashed on its way to Kathmandu.
Yeti Airlines, which ran the flight, said there were 68 passengers and 4 crew members on board. An airport worker said that 15 of the passengers were from other countries. There was one Australian, one French, one Argentinian, four Russians, five Indians, two South Koreans, and one Irish person.
The twin-propeller plane was going from the capital, Kathmandu, to the city of Pokhara in central Nepal. Pokhara is a popular place for religious pilgrims and international trekkers to go to get to the Himalayan Mountains.
The flight left at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, and the last time it talked to air traffic control was at 10:50 a.m. Just before it was about to land at Pokhara International Airport, it crashed on the banks of the Seti Gandaki River. The airport had just been opened two weeks before.
Anup Joshi, a spokesman for Pokhara Airport, said that the plane crashed as it was coming in for a landing. He also said that the plane “cruised at 12,500 feet and was on a normal descent.” On Sunday, the sky was clear.
Flight Tracker data showed that the ATR 72-500 plane was 15 years old and “had an old transponder with bad data.” In a statement, Atr, a French-Italian plane maker, said that they would help with an investigation into what happened.
Shared on social media was a video that looked like it was taken right after the crash. It showed the plane on the ground engulfed in flames while black smoke rose from the wreckage.
A video clip showed the plane flying dangerously low over a neighbourhood, and then there was a loud explosion that people in the area could hear.
After the crash, the wreckage was still on fire, and there was a lot of thick, smelly smoke, which made it hard for rescue workers to find the bodies. Gurudutta Dhakal, a local official, said that everyone is now focused on putting out the fire and saving the people inside.
After the crash, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepal’s prime minister, called an emergency meeting. The Nepalese government has also put together a five-person commission to look into what happened and has told the authorities to do a technical check on all domestic flight planes.
In the past few years, Nepal’s air industry has grown a lot. It now transports goods and people between hard-to-reach areas, as well as foreign trekkers and climbers. But it has also been unsafe because there hasn’t been enough training or maintenance.
When a Nepali airliner, Tara Air, crashed in May 2022, all 22 people on board died. In March 2018, 51 people died when a US-Bangla Airlines plane crashed near Kathmandu.
Because of safety concerns, the European Union has banned all Nepalese airlines from flying in its airspace.
Some of the world’s most remote and tricky runways are in the Himalayan country. These runways are surrounded by snow-capped peaks and have approaches that are difficult even for experienced pilots.
Aircraft operators say that Nepal doesn’t have the right infrastructure to make accurate weather predictions, especially in remote areas with difficult mountainous terrain where planes have crashed and killed people in the past. In the mountains, the weather can also change quickly, making it dangerous to fly.
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