At least 68 people were killed when a plane crashed near the central Nepal city of Pokhara on Sunday, a government official said, in the country’s worst aviation accident. For more than 30 years.
Seventy-two people — four crew and 68 passengers — were on board the ATR 72 flight, operated by Nepal’s Eti Airlines, when it crashed, Eti Airlines spokesman Sudarsan Bardaula said. Thirty-seven men, 25 women, three children and three infants were among the victims, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said.
Search efforts were called off after dark, and army spokesman Krishna Prasad Bhandari said they would resume on Monday morning. Bhandari said hundreds of first responders were already working to find the remaining four people.
Sunday’s incident was the third worst in the Himalayan nation’s history, according to data from the Aviation Safety Network. July and September 1992 saw the highest number of casualties. 113 and 167 people died in the crashes involving flights operated by Thai Airways and Pakistan International Airlines respectively.
The Civil Aviation Authority said 53 passengers and four crew members were Nepalis. Fifteen foreigners were on board: five Indians, four Russians and two Koreans. The rest are individual citizens of Australia, Argentina, France and Ireland.
The plane was flying from the capital Kathmandu to Pokhara, the country’s second most populous city and gateway to the Himalayas, the country’s state media The Rising Nepal reported. Bokahara is located 129 kilometers (80 mi) west of Kathmandu.
About 18 minutes after take-off, the flight made its last contact with Pokhara airport at around 10:50 am local time. It then fell into the nearby Seti river valley. First responders from the Nepal Army and various police departments have been dispatched to the crash site and are engaged in rescue operations, civil aviation officials said in a statement.
A video clip on social media on Sunday shows the moments of the plane crash. The footage, which appears to have been taken from the rooftop of a house in Pokhara, shows the plane flying low over a populated area and rolling on its side before the plane is seen in the clip. A loud explosion is heard at the end of the video.
CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the clip.
A 5-member committee has also been constituted to investigate the cause of the accident. According to Bishnu Patel, Nepal’s deputy prime minister and government spokesperson, the five-member committee will submit a report to the government within 45 days.
Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said, “I am deeply saddened by the sad and tragic accident.”
“I sincerely request the security personnel, all agencies of the Government of Nepal and the public to start effective rescue operations,” Dahl said on Twitter.
The government has declared Monday a public holiday to mourn the victims, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin both offered their condolences, as did the Australian ambassador to Nepal.
Nepal’s Eti Airlines has announced that it will cancel all scheduled flights on Monday, January 16, to mourn the victims of the plane crash.
The Himalayan country of Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest. There is a record of plane crashes. Its weather can change suddenly and airstrips are usually located in difficult-to-reach mountainous areas.
Last May, A Tara Air flight with 22 people on board It crashed into the Himalayas at an altitude of about 14,500 feet. It says it is the country’s 19th plane crash in 10 years and its 10th fatality in the same period. Aviation Safety Network database.
The plane involved in Sunday’s crash was an ATR 72-500, a twin-prop turbojet often used in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly by low-cost carriers. The aircraft, manufactured by ATR as a joint venture partner of European aerospace giants Airbus and Leonardo, Usually has a good name.
However, they have been involved in accidents before. Two ATR 72s operated by now-defunct Taiwanese airline Transaea crashed. July 2014 And February 2015. The second prompted Taiwanese authorities to temporarily ground all ATR 72s registered on the island.
In total, various models of ATR 72 were involved in 11 fatal incidents before Sunday’s crash in Nepal. According to the Aviation Safety Network.
ATR informed about the accident in a statement on Sunday.
“Our first thoughts are with all those affected,” the statement said. “ATR specialists are fully engaged in supporting both the investigation and the client.”
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