Plane crash kills at least 68 in Nepal: officials

At least 68 people were killed when a plane crashed while trying to land in the city of Pokhara on Sunday, officials said.

In a news release, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Said The aircraft last made contact with the airport from near the Seti Valley at 10:50 am before it crashed. 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.

Data from flight tracking website Flightradar24 show The 15-year-old twin-engine ATR 72 stopped transmitting its position around 05:05 UTC (12:00 am) on Sunday and transmitted its last signal a few minutes later at 05:12 UTC. The plane departed at 04:47 UTC, it said.

“Rescue operations are still ongoing,” said the Nepal Aviation Authority. No survivors had yet been found, and no Americans were on board the aircraft.

Rescue teams and helicopters were deployed after the incident to try to find survivors “immediately” in a “rapid rescue operation,” civil authorities said. “We expect to recover more bodies,” a Nepalese military spokesman told Reuters, before saying the plane had “broken into pieces.”

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who rushed to the airport after the crash, set up a panel to investigate the accident. On Twitter, Dahal said he was “deeply saddened by this sad and tragic accident.”

“I sincerely appeal to the security personnel, all agencies of the Nepalese government and the general public to initiate an effective rescue,” he wrote.

Nepal Airlines crash
Rescuers gather to retrieve bodies at the site of a plane crash with 72 people on board in Pokhara, western Nepal, January 15, 2023.

Local resident Divya Dhakal Said BBC, where she saw the plane hit the ground and crash at around 11am local time.

“By the time I got there, the crash site was already crowded. There was a lot of smoke rising from the flames of the planes. And the helicopters came right up,” she said. “The pilot did his best not to hit civilization or home,” added Dakal. “There was a small space just off the Seti River and the flight hit the ground in that small space.”

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.

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.

A related plane type, the ATR 72, is used by 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 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.

ATR issued a statement following the crash in Nepal that it had been informed of the accident.

“Our first thought is to all individuals affected by this,” said the statement read. “ATR specialists are fully engaged to support both research and clients.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in New York. He covers breaking news.