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Plane crashes in central Nepal, 68 dead

A large number of rescue workers and onlookers swarmed near a steep gorge outside a resort town in central Nepal where a regional airliner crashed on Sunday, as rescuers combed debris from the cliff’s edge and the gorge below.

A regional passenger plane carrying 72 people has so far crashed into a gorge while landing at the newly opened airport in the resort town of Pokhara, killing 68, according to an announcement posted on Twitter by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority. confirmed. This is the deadliest aviation accident in 30 years.

It was not immediately clear what caused the accident.

Nepal plane crash
Nepalese rescue workers and civilians gather around the wreckage of a crashed airliner in Pokhara, Nepal, Sunday, January 15, 2023. When you land at the newly opened airport in the resort town of Pokhara. This is the deadliest aviation crash in 30 years.

Krishna Mani Baral / AP

Witnesses said they watched from the terrace of their home after they began attempting to land and saw the aircraft spinning violently in the air. It is said that it fell towards it and crashed into a canyon.

At the crash site near the Seti River, about 1.6 km (nearly a mile) from Pokhara International Airport, rescuers sprayed fire hoses and lowered ropes to another smoldering part of the wreck below. Some bodies, burned beyond recognition, were taken to the hospital by firefighters, where grief-stricken relatives gathered. At the Kathmandu airport, family members appeared to be escorted and distraught, sometimes exchanging heated words with officials while awaiting information.

“After the crash, the plane burst into flames. There was smoke everywhere,” Gurung said.

Aviation authorities said the plane made its last contact with the airport near the Seti Valley at 10:50 a.m. before the crash.

A twin-engined ATR 72 aircraft operated by Nepal’s Yeti Airways was a 27-minute flight from the capital, Kathmandu, to Pokhara. The civil aviation authority of Nepal said the plane was carrying 68 passengers, including 15 foreigners, and four crew members. The foreigners included five Indians, four Russians, two Koreans, one of him each from Ireland, Australia, Argentina and France. No survivors have yet been found.

Tek Bahadur KC, senior administrator of the Kaski district, said rescue workers hoped to find more bodies at the bottom of the gorge.

Images and videos shared on Twitter showed plumes of smoke rising from the crash site, as aid workers, Nepalese soldiers and a large crowd of people gathered around the wreckage of the plane looking for survivors. The fuselage of the aircraft was split into multiple parts and scattered across the canyon.

Nepal plane crash
Locals look at the wreckage of an airliner in Pokhara, Nepal on Sunday, January 15, 2023. A passenger plane with 72 people on board has crashed near Nepal’s Pokhara International Airport, the daily Kathmandu Post reported. The plane was carrying 68 passengers and 4 crew members.

Yunish Gurung / AP

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who rushed to the airport after the crash, set up a panel to investigate the accident.

“The incident was tragic. With the full force of the Nepalese army, the police were deployed to the rescue,” he said.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it was investigating the whereabouts of the two South Korean passengers and that it had dispatched staff to the scene. Russian Ambassador to Nepal Alexei Novikov confirmed the deaths of four Russian citizens on board the plane.

A related plane type, the ATR 72, is used by several airlines around the world for short regional flights. His aircraft model, introduced in the late 1980s by a French-Italian partnership, has been involved in several fatal accidents over the years. In 2018, an ATR 72 operated by Iran’s Aseman Airlines crashed in a foggy mountainous area, killing all 65 people on board.

In Taiwan, two previous incidents involving ATR 72-500 and ATR 72-600 aircraft occurred just a few months apart.

In July 2014, TransAsia ATR flight 72-500 crashed while attempting to land in the scenic Penghu Islands between Taiwan and China, killing 48 people on board. An ATR 72-600 operated by the same Taiwanese airline crashed shortly after takeoff in Taipei in February 2015, revealing one of his engines failed and the second was accidentally shut down. I was.

In a 2015 crash in which a plane overran and crashed into an out-of-control taxi, killing 43 people, authorities grounded all ATR 72s registered in Taiwan for the time being. TransAsia stopped all flights in his 2016 and has since gone out of business.

In a tweet, ATR identified the plane involved in Sunday’s crash as an ATR 72-500. According to flightradar24.com aircraft tracking data, the aircraft was 15 years old and “equipped with an old transponder with unreliable data.” Before Yeti took over in 2019, it was operated by India’s Kingfisher Airlines and Thailand’s Nok Air, according to Airfleets.net records.

Yeti Airlines has a fleet of six ATR72-500 aircraft, said company spokesperson Sudarshan Bhatawla.

Located 125 miles (200 kilometers) west of Kathmandu, Pokhara is the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, a popular hiking trail in the Himalayas. The city’s new international airport opened just two weeks ago. It was built with Chinese construction and financial support. China’s ambassador to Nepal Chen Song said in a tweet that he was “very shocked” to learn of the accident.

“Our thoughts are with the people of Nepal during this difficult time. We extend our deepest condolences to the victims and our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families,” he wrote.

Sunday’s crash is Nepal’s deadliest since 1992 when a Pakistan International Airlines plane crashed into a hill while trying to land in Kathmandu, killing all 167 people on board.

Home to eight of the world’s 14 tallest mountains, including Everest, Nepal has a history of plane crashes. According to the Flight Safety Foundation’s aviation safety database, there have been 42 fatal plane crashes in Nepal since 1946.

Last year, a plane crashed into a mountainside in Nepal, killing 22 people. In 2016, Taraair, his twin, his Otter, which was flying from Pokhara to Kathmandu, crashed after takeoff, killing all 23 of his people on board.

In 2012, an Agni Air plane crashed from Pokhara to Jomsom, killing 15 people. Six survived. In 2014, a Nepal Airlines plane from Pokhara to Jumla crashed, killing all 18 people on board.

In 1992, a Pakistan International Airlines plane crashed into a hill while attempting to land in Kathmandu, killing all 167 people on board.

The European Union has banned airlines from Nepal from flying to a block of 27 countries since 2013, citing weak safety standards. In 2017, the International Civil Aviation Organization cited improvements in Nepal’s aviation sector, but the EU continues to demand administrative reforms.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nepal-plane-crash-68-dead-pokhara/ Plane crashes in central Nepal, 68 dead

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