At least 32 dead in Nepal plane crash – NBC Chicago
At least 32 people were killed when a 72-seater Nepalese plane crashed into a gorge on Sunday at a newly opened airport in the central resort city of Pokhara, an official said.
Rescuers scoured the crash site near the Seti River, about 1.6 kilometers (about a mile) from Pokhara International Airport, using ropes to pull bodies from the wreckage, including some parts dangling by the throat.
Only Bahadur KC, a senior official in the Kaski district, said he expects rescuers to find more bodies behind the gorge.
It is not yet known what caused the plane to crash.
The twin-engine ATR 72, operated by Nepal’s Yeti Airlines, was carrying 68 passengers, including 15 foreign nationals and four crew members, the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority said. The foreigners include five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans and one each from Ireland, Australia, Argentina and France.
According to the aviation authority, the plane made the last contact with the airport from Seti Gorge at 10:50 a.m. before the crash.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who rushed to the airport after the crash, said the plane was flying from the capital Kathmandu to Pokhara. He called on the security personnel and the public to participate in rescue operations.
Pictures and videos shared on Twitter showed plumes of smoke rising from the crash site as rescue workers, Nepalese soldiers and a large crowd gathered near the wreckage.
The aircraft type involved, the ATR 72, was used by several airlines around the world for short regional flights. The aircraft model, introduced in the late 1980s by a French-Italian partnership, has suffered several fatal crashes over the years. In 2018, an ATR 72 belonging to Iran’s Aseman Airlines crashed in a mountainous and foggy area, killing all 65 people on board.
In a tweet, ATR identified the aircraft involved in Sunday’s crash as an ATR 72-500. According to Flightradar24.com’s aircraft tracking data, the aircraft was 15 years old and “equipped with an old transponder with unreliable data”. Yeti Airlines has a fleet of six ATR72-500 aircraft, company representative Sudarshan Bartaula said.
Located 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Kathmandu, Pokhara is the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, a popular trekking route in the Himalayas. Pokhara International Airport has started operations only two weeks ago. The flight from Kathmandu usually takes 27 minutes.
Sunday’s crash was the deadliest in Nepal since March 2018, when a US-Bangla Airlines passenger plane from Bangladesh crashed on landing in Kathmandu, killing 49 of the 71 people on board.
Home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Mount Everest, Nepal has a history of plane crashes. Since 1946, there have been 42 fatal plane crashes in Nepal, according to the Flight Safety Foundation’s aviation safety database.
Last year, a plane crashed into a mountainside in Nepal, killing 22 people. In 2016, a Tara Air Twin Otter flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu crashed after takeoff, killing 23 people on board.
In 2012, an Agni Air flight from Pokhara to Jomsom crashed, killing 15 people. Six people survived. In 2014, a Nepal Airlines flight from Pokhara to Jumla crashed, killing all 18 people on board.
In 1992, a Pakistan International Airlines flight crashed into a hill while attempting to land in Kathmandu, killing all 167 people on board.
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