A plane carrying some 72 people from Kathmandu crashed this morning in Pokhara, Nepal, Yeti Airlines said. 16 dead bodies have been recovered from the wreckage, a Nepalese army spokesman said. There were 68 passengers and four crew members on board the plane that crashed between the old and new airports in the city, located in western Nepal. Yeti Airlines’ twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft was en route from Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.
“10 foreigners, including 2 infants, were on board,” said Sudarshan Bartaula, spokesman for Yeti Airlines. 53 Nepalese, 5 Indians, 4 Russians, an Irishman, 2 Koreans, 1 Argentinian and a French citizen were on board, ANI news agency reported, citing the airport authority.
Rescue operations were difficult because of a raging fire in the wreck, Nepali journalist Dilip Thapa told NewsMadura. Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has convened an emergency cabinet.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the plane took off from Kathmandu at 10:33 am.
The plane was about to land at Pokhara airport when it crashed into the bank of the Seti River. The crash happened about 20 minutes after takeoff, suggesting the plane may have been descending. The flight time between the two cities is 25 minutes.
“We do not know at this time if there are any survivors,” the airline’s spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula told AFP news agency.
The plane caught fire when it crashed and rescuers tried to put it out, a local official said.
Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia expresses condolences for the loss of life in the plane crash.
“The loss of life in a tragic plane crash in Nepal is extremely unfortunate. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the bereaved. For Shanti,” he tweeted.
Aviation operations in Nepal are plagued by safety concerns and inadequate staff training. The European Union has placed Nepal on its flight safety blacklist since 2013 and imposed a general ban on all flights from the Himalayan country into its airspace, after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) flagged safety concerns.
Hundreds of people have already died in horrific plane crashes in Nepal, AFP news agency reports.
In May 2022, all 22 people on board a plane belonging to the Nepalese airline Tara Air – 16 Nepalese, four Indians and two Germans – died when it crashed.
In March 2018, a US-Bangla Airlines plane made an emergency landing near Kathmandu International Airport, killing 51 people.
That accident was Nepal’s deadliest accident since 1992, when all 167 people on board a Pakistan International Airlines plane were killed when it crashed on approach to Kathmandu.
Just two months earlier, a Thai Airways plane had crashed near the same airport, killing 113 people.