Dozens dead after passenger plane crashes in Nepal

Randolph Lopez
March 13, 2018

It has suffered more than 20 aviation accidents in the last decade, mostly involving small planes on domestic routes.

A police spokesman, Manoj Neupane, said that 49 people died and that 22 injured were being treated at three hospitals. "But it landed from the northern side after making few rounds in the sky", he said. Traffic controllers again asked the pilot if things were OK, and he replied, "Yes".

But the conversations between the pilot and air traffic controllers indicated confusion over which direction the plane should land.

It was not immediately clear if the pilot had issued a "Mayday" call, or distress signal.

The plane swerved repeatedly as it prepared to land in Kathmandu, said Amanda Summers, an American working in Nepal.

Bohora, an employee of Raswita International Travels and Tours, recalled that the take-off was normal from Dhaka but when the plane approached the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) for landing in Kathmandu, the aircraft began to behave strangely.

Andrew Blackie, an aviation consultant, pilot and former accident investigator for the British government, said investigators will be looking into all aspects of the crash, such as mechanical failure, weather and operational error. "But I came to know that the aircraft had a problem only when it forcibly landed", the 33-year-old said from a hospital bed.

Passenger Plane Crashes, Catches Fire at Nepal Airport

The aircraft descended to an airport altitude of 4,400 feet and then ascended up to 6,600 feet before crashing about two minutes later, the website said.

Rescuers pulled bodies from the charred wreckage of the plane, operated by Bangladeshi airline US-Bangla, after a raging fire was put out.

After hearing the recording between the tower and the pilots, "we assumed that there was no negligence by our pilots", he said.

"Our thoughts are with those injured, and their families", it said.

A Retired Air Force Air commodore in Bangladesh, Iqbal Hossain, described to the BBC the challenges for pilots landing at Kathmandu. Till previous year, the airline operated 20 Q400 airplanes. In 2016, a Twin Otter turboprop crashed into a mountain killing all 23 people on board.

Todays accident is deadliest since September 1992 when all 167 people aboard a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane were killed when it crashed near the Kathmandu airport. The parent company is involved in a number of industries, including real estate, education and agriculture. He did not provide the nationalities of the four crew members. The airport was reopened later. "We are in touch with Nepali authorities".

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