Nepal plane crash: At least 68 dead as Yeti Airlines plane crashes near Pokhara city


Kathmandu, Nepal
CNN

At least 68 people were killed on Sunday when a plane crashed near the central Nepal city of Pokhara, a government official said, the country’s deadliest plane crash in more than 30 years.

Seventy-two people – four crew members and 68 passengers – were on board the ATR-72 operated by Nepal-based Yeti Airlines when it crashed, Yeti Airlines spokesman Sudarshan said. Bartula. Thirty-seven were male, 25 female, three children and three infants, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal reported.

First responders were still working to locate the last eight passengers, but they were “losing hope” of finding them alive, Fanindra Mani Pokharel, co-secretary of Nepal’s interior ministry, told CNN. A local official had previously expressed hope that some survivors could be found.

Among the dead is at least one infant, according to Nepal’s civil aviation authority.

Sunday’s incident was the third deadliest accident in the history of the Himalayan nation, according to data from the Aviation Safety Network. The only incidents in which more people were killed took place in July and September 1992. These accidents involved planes operated by the airlines Thai Airways and Pakistan International and resulted in 113 and 167 deaths respectively.

Rescuers gather at the site of a plane crash in Pokhara.
Authorities said 72 people were on board when the plane crashed.

The civil aviation authority said 53 of the passengers and all four crew members were Nepalese. Fifteen foreign nationals were also on the plane: five were Indians, four were Russians and two were Koreans. The others were Australian, Argentinian, French and Irish citizens.

The plane was flying from the capital Kathmandu to Pokhara, the country’s second most populous city, the country’s state media, The Rising Nepal, reported. Pokahara is located about 129 kilometers (80 miles) west of Kathmandu.

The plane last made contact with Pokhara airport at around 10:50 a.m. local time, about 18 minutes after takeoff. It then descended into the nearby Seti River Gorge. First responders from the Nepal Army and various police departments have been deployed to the crash site and are carrying out a rescue operation, civil aviation authorities said in a statement.

Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said he was “deeply saddened by this sad and tragic accident”.

“I sincerely call on security personnel, all Nepalese government agencies and the general public to launch an effective rescue,” Dahal said on Twitter.

The Nepalese company Yeti Airlines announced that it was canceling all its scheduled flights on Monday January 16, in mourning for the victims of the accident.

The Himalayan country of Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 tallest mountains, including Everest, has a record for air crashes. Its weather can change suddenly, and airstrips are usually located in hard-to-reach mountainous areas.

Last May, a Tara Air flight carrying 22 people crashed into a mountain in the Himalayas at an altitude of around 14,500 feet. It was the country’s 19th plane crash in 10 years and its 10th fatal accident in the same period, according to the Aviation Safety Network database.

The aircraft involved in Sunday’s crash was an ATR 72-500, a twin-prop turbofan engine often used in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly among low-cost carriers. Planes made by ATR, a partnership between European aircraft companies Airbus and Leonardo, generally have a good reputation.

However, they have been involved in accidents before. Two ATR 72s operated by defunct Taiwanese airline Transasia were involved in fatal crashes in July 2014 and February 2015. The second prompted Taiwan authorities to temporarily ground all ATR 72s registered on the island.

In total, the various models of the ATR 72 had been involved in 11 fatal incidents before Sunday’s crash in Nepal, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

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