Nepalis are commemorating the victims of the nation’s worst air catastrophe in about three decades by observing a day of mourning.
On Sunday morning, a flight from Kathmandu to the tourist destination of Pokhara crashed and caught fire, killing at least 68 passengers.
The Yeti Airlines flight was caught on camera rolling suddenly as it approached the airport.
The crash’s exact cause is unknown, but Nepal has a dismal history of deadly aviation mishaps.
Due to nighttime darkness, a search and rescue operation involving hundreds of Nepalese soldiers was put on hold. It is scheduled to continue on Monday morning.
Rescuers were earlier seen scurrying around burned airplane parts in earlier local TV reports. The plane had crashed just over a kilometer from the airport, into the Seti River gorge.
While the majority of the 72 passengers and crew perished, there were unsubstantiated allegations that a few of people survived despite suffering grave injuries.
The government of Nepal formed a panel to look into the disaster’s cause, and the prime minister of that country designated Monday a national day of mourning.
On January 15, 2023, rescue personnel were present at the scene of the Yeti Airlines ATR72 plane crash in Pokhara, Nepal.
Source image: EPA-EFE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
Rescue workers in their hundreds flocked to the disaster site.
When she saw the plane fall from the sky shortly after 11:00 a.m. local time, local resident Divya Dhakal told the BBC that she immediately made her way to the disaster site (05:15 GMT).
“The crash site was already crowded when I arrived. The plane’s flames were spewing out a lot of smoke. Helicopters quickly followed after that “She spoke.
She said, “The pilot did his utmost to avoid hitting any homes or civilization.” Right next to the Seti River, there was a small area, and that’s where the plane crashed.
Because of Nepal’s distant runways and potentially dangerous rapid weather changes, aviation accidents are not rare there.
This Himalayan country contains some of the most treacherous terrain and some of the most breathtaking mountains in the world.
Image source, family photograph by Tribhuvan Paudel
Journalist Tribhuvan Paudel was a passenger on the wrecked plane, according to the image’s caption
In the past, inadequate regulation and a lack of investment in modern planes have also been cited as causes.
22 passengers were killed when a Tara Air plane crashed in northern Nepal in May 2022. 51 people perished four years ago when an aircraft from Bangladesh caught fire as it touched down in Kathmandu.
Tribhuvan Paudel, a journalist, was also aboard the flight, and his sister Chiranjibi Paudel remarked that action needed to be made to increase aviation safety in Nepal.
Due to worries about maintenance and training standards, the European Union has prohibited Nepalese airlines from operating in its airspace.
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South Asia correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan’s analysis box
There was an unsettling stillness as the final airplane of the day taxied to the domestic terminal at Kathmandu Airport.
Flight 691 of Yeti Airlines had departed from here only a few hours before. The aircraft came down not far from the recently constructed Pokhara International Airport, which just recently began operations.
People we spoke to at Kathmandu Airport said they still felt safe flying after hearing today’s news; short flights are a common way for Nepal’s middle class to move throughout this Himalayan country.
Although the cause of today’s disaster is yet unknown, this is not the first time the nation has come together to grieve the lives lost in a similar catastrophe.
While waiting for her bags, Ria commented, “I’m not afraid of flying, but there should be stronger regulations and modern aircraft.”
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Just after 10:30 (04:45 GMT), a Yeti Airlines flight headed south from the Nepalese capital to the popular tourist destination of Pokhara.
There were four crew members and 68 passengers, at least 15 of whom were foreigners.
53 of the passengers were reportedly from Nepal. On the plane, there were two Koreans, five Russians, and five Indians. In addition, there was one traveler from each of Ireland, Australia, Argentina, and France.
Local resident Khum Bahadur Chhetri told Reuters that he watched the jet as it neared the airport from the roof of his house.
When the plane suddenly nosedived and entered the gorge, Chhetri claimed, “I observed the plane quivering, moving left and right.”