Nepal Plane Crash Kills at Least 68
A plane crashed into a river gorge in central Nepal on Sunday, killing at least 68 people and sending Nepali authorities into a scramble to determine what brought down the plane.
The Yeti Airlines turboprop hit the mouth of the Seti River about a mile from its destination, Pokhara International Airport, according to Brig. General Krishna Prasad Bhandari, Nepalese army spokesman. Photos and television footage showed black plumes of smoke and fire at the site, with crowds swarming around the wreckage.
General Bhandari said that as of Sunday evening the rescue team had retrieved 68 bodies and that search operations had been suspended until Monday morning. There were 72 passengers on board, including four crew members.
“It is dark now and the crash site is a river mouth where it is difficult to work at night,” he said.
Rescue teams worked to retrieve bodies at the crash site of a Yeti Airlines plane. Photo: Rohit Giri/REUTERS
The passenger list included 53 Nepalese, five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans and one each from Australia, Argentina, France and Ireland, Nepal’s civil aviation authority said. The names of all the passengers were released by the aviation regulator on its Twitter account.
Tribhuban Poudel, a 37-year-old publisher and editor of a local newspaper in Pokhara, had traveled home on the morning of the Nepali Hindu festival of Maghe Sankranti to celebrate with his family after attending a press conference in Kathmandu, according to his friend. his Manoj Basnet, a media executive based in Kathmandu.
Tribhuban Poudel, editor of a local newspaper in Pokhara, Nepal, was on the Yeti Airlines plane that crashed. Photo: Manoj Basnet
“He had risen through life through struggles and was always available to help anyone he could, including his friends,” said Mr. Basnet. Mr. Poudel is survived by his mother, wife and a 3-year-old son.
The aviation authority said flight number YT-691 departed the capital Kathmandu at 10:32 a.m. local time for what is normally a 30-minute journey. The plane’s last contact with the Pokhara airport tower was at 10:50 am from the mouth of the Seti River and it crashed soon after.
Flightradar24, a flight tracking site, said the ATR 72-500 plane was 15 years old and equipped with an old transponder that had unreliable data. In a tweet, the website said the transponder stopped transmitting position data at 10:50 a.m. and that the last signal from the transponder was received at 10:57 a.m.
The aircraft is manufactured by aircraft manufacturer ATR, a joint venture between Airbus SE and Leonardo SpA.
Pokhara is a popular tourist destination, with many people flocking to the lakeside town for hiking and yoga. Nepal relies heavily on tourist revenue, with the industry accounting for about 6.7% of the country’s GDP, according to the World Bank. In 2019, the tourism industry supported over one million jobs in Nepal.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal called an emergency cabinet meeting after the crash. The government has formed a five-member inquiry committee of retired government officials and aviation safety experts to determine the cause of the crash and make recommendations to avoid such an incident in the future, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Aviation said. Civil. The commission of inquiry will have 45 days to present its report.
Rescue workers sift through the wreckage of the Yeti Airlines turboprop plane. Photo: Yunish Gurung/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Plane crashes in Nepal have occurred in recent years, sometimes blamed on bad weather conditions. Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountain peaks, including Mount Everest.
Last May, a Tara Air flight with 22 people on board crashed in the Himalayan mountains, killing everyone on board. The plane, which had taken off from Pokhara, crashed after it overturned due to bad weather, government officials said.
In 2018, a US-Bangla Airlines flight from the Bangladeshi capital crash-landed and caught fire at Kathmandu airport, killing 51 of the 71 people on board. A government inquiry blamed the crash on pilot error, saying he was under severe emotional distress.
On Sunday Mr. Basnet recalled his last words with Mr. Poudel about two months ago. “He asked me when I planned to visit Pokhara next time,” Mr Basnet said.
Mr. Poudel had helped Mr. Basnet with local contacts and business leads when he was trying to find his footing as a media professional in Pokhara about a decade ago, recalled Mr. Basnet. They had not seen each other for a while, but Mr. Poudel told him he had followed up on Mr Basnet’s social media posts.
“You are very good in life. Keep up the good work,” Mr. Basnet recalled telling his friend.
Write Krishna Pokharel at [email protected] and Shan Li at [email protected]
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