Plane crashes, killing 72 people

An aircraft carrying 72 people crashed in Nepal, killing at least all on board.

The plane crashed on Sunday while flying from Kathmandu to Pokhara. Pokhara is a bustling tourist town located approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles) west of Kathmandu.

The twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft operated by Nepal’s Yeti Airlines carried 72 passengers, including two infants, four crew members and ten foreign nationals, said airline spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula.

“We expect to recover more bodies,” said army spokesman Krishna Bhandari to Reuters.

There was thick black smoke billowing from the crash site as rescue workers and crowds of people gathered around the wreckage.

“Responders have already reached there and trying to douse the fire. All agencies are now focused on first dousing the fire and rescuing the passengers,” said Gurudutta Dhakal, a local official.

An aviation authority statement states that the craft made contact with the airport at 10:50am (05:05 GMT) from Seti Gorge. “Then it crashed.”

“Half of the plane is on the hillside,” Arun Tamu, a local resident, told Reuters minutes after the plane went down.

“The other half has fallen into the gorge of the Seti river.”

In an interview with Al Jazeera from Kathmandu, Ramyata Limbu stated that the weather and visibility in Pokhara were “good” when the plane crashed.

“So its [the crash] shocking and surprising,” Limbu explained. “Eyewitnesses said the plane was having problems before it crashed into a gorge close to the airport.”

As a result of the plane crash, Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has called an emergency cabinet meeting.

“I am deeply saddened by the sad and tragic accident of Yeti Airlines ANC ATR 72 which was flying from Kathmandu to Pokhara with passengers,” he wrote on Twitter.

“I sincerely appeal to the security personnel, all agencies of the Nepal government and the general public to start an effective rescue.”

According to the Aviation Safety Network, the crash is Nepal’s deadliest since March 2018, when a US-Bangla Dash 8 turboprop from Dhaka crashed on landing in Kathmandu, killing 51 of the 71 people on board.

A plane owned by Tara Air crashed less than 20 minutes after taking off from Pokhara in May.

It is estimated that at least 309 people have died in plane and helicopter crashes in Nepal, which is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest – where the weather can change suddenly, creating hazardous conditions.