• Saturday, January 28, 2023

ASIA

68 killed as Nepalese passenger plane with 72 people onboard, including five Indians, crashes in Pokhara

Other foreign nationals included – four Russians, two Koreans, and an Australian, an Irish, an Argentinian and a French.

Rescuers gather at the site of a plane crash in Pokhara on January 15, 2023. (Photo by YUNISH GURUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

At least 68 people were killed when a Nepalese passenger plane with 72 people onboard, including five Indians, crashed into a river gorge on Sunday while landing at the Pokhara airport, according to media reports.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), Yeti Airlines’ 9N-ANC ATR-72 aircraft took off from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport at 10:33 am. Pokhara is a major tourist destination in the Himalayan nation.

The notice issued by Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority reads that around 10:30 am, the flight carrying 68 passengers including, 5 Indians, 4 Russians, and 1 Irish took off.

“Nepali Army, Police Force, Airport Rescue, and Fire Fighting and Nepal Police will be informed about the rescue operation. Total number 72 including crew female 25 male 30, standard, white. So far, the death toll is 68,” the statement reads.

While landing at the Pokhara airport, the aircraft crashed on the bank of the Seti River between the old airport and the new airport. 

The notice issued by Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority reads that around 10:30 am, the flight carrying 68 passengers including, 5 Indians, 4 Russians, and 1 Irish took off

“Nepali Army, Police Force, Airport Rescue, and Fire Fighting and Nepal Police will be informed about the rescue operation. Total number 72 including crew female 25 male 30, standard, white. So far, the death toll is 68,” the statement reads

At least 32 bodies have been recovered from the wreckage site, The Himalayan Times newspaper reported.

Five Indians were among the total 15 foreign nationals onboard the plane, the paper reported.

Other foreign nationals included – four Russians, two Koreans, and an Australian, an Irish, an Argentinian and a French.

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.

Prime 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.

Details of the accident are yet to come.

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 terrains.

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 as 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.

(PTI)

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