A domestic flight from Yeti Airlines collided in Pokhara, Nepal on Sunday, killing at least 68 people. This was the third worst aviation accident in Nepal in 30 years.
Many rescue personnel searched the area where 72 passengers from Kathmandu, the capital, went down. Late in the evening, officials called an end to the search operations and said they would resume Monday.
The rescue crews were seen frantically working around the wreckage of the plane in footage from local TV. The ground surrounding the accident site had been scorched with visible flames.
It was clear weather and no indications of the cause were immediately available.
According to the Aviation Safety Network Database, it was Nepal’s most fatal air accident since 1992. A Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A300 collided with a hillside on its approach to Kathmandu. All 167 passengers were killed.
Since 2000, nearly 350 people were killed in Nepali helicopter or plane crashes. Nepal is home to 8 of the 14 world’s highest mountain peaks including Everest. Sudden weather conditions can lead to dangerous situations.
Since 2013, the European Union has barred Nepali airline’s access to its airspace due to safety concerns.
According to a statement by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, Sunday’s plane made contact from Seti Gorge with Pokhara airport at 10:50 (0505 GMT). It crashed. It said that at least 68 were dead.
Arun Tamu (a local resident) said that half of the plane was on the hillside. He told Reuters that he arrived at the spot minutes after it went down. The other half of the plane has been swept into the Seti River Gorge.
Khum Bahadur Chotri, another resident of the area, stated that he was on the roof and watched the plane approach.
Chhetri said that he saw the plane trembling and moving to the left and right. Then suddenly, it took off and went into the gorge.”
According to Bishnu Paudel (finance minister), the government established a panel that will investigate the causes of the crash. It is anticipated to make a report in 45 days.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority, three babies and three kids were aboard the twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft.
Five Indians, four Russians, and one Irishman were among the passengers. There were also two South Koreans, an Australian and an Argentine citizen.
From Kathmandu, the journey to Pokhara (Nepal’s second-largest city) is one of the most sought-after tourist routes in the Himalayan country. Many prefer a shorter flight than a long drive uphill.
According to a Pokhara Airport spokesperson, the plane crashed at the airport as it was approaching the runway. He added that the aircraft “climbed at 12,500 feet” and was in a normal descent. On Sunday, the weather was perfect.
FlightRadar24, a flight tracking site, stated on Twitter that the Yeti Airlines plane was fifteen years old. It also had an older transponder which provided unreliable data. The transponder signal was last received by FlightRadar24 at 0512 GMT, an elevation of 2,875 feet above the mean sea level.
According to FlightRadar24, Pokhara Airport lies at approximately 2,700-2,800 feet above sea level.
Yeti claims to be a top domestic carrier on its website. Six ATR 72500s are part of its fleet, which includes the one that crashed. Tara Air is also owned by the company. Together, they offer Nepal’s “widest network”, the company claims.
Yeti stated that it canceled its Monday regular flights in “mourning” for those who had lost their lives.
ATR72, a twin-engine turboprop aircraft manufactured jointly by Airbus, and Leonardo, is a popular European planemaker ATR. According to Yeti Airlines’ website, it has six ATR72500 aircraft in its fleet.
ATR stated in a statement that “ATR specialists will fully engage in supporting both investigation and customer.”