At least 68 killed in Nepal plane crash

A plane crashed into a river valley in central Nepal on Sunday, killing at least 68 people and leaving Nepali authorities scrambling to determine what brought down the plane.

Brig said the Eti Airlines turboprop crashed into the Cheti River valley about a mile from its destination, Pokhara International Airport. Nepal Army Spokesperson General Krishna Prasad Bhandari. Photos and TV footage showed black smoke and flames at the site, with crowds of people swarming around the wreckage.

General Bhandari said rescue teams had recovered 68 bodies as of Sunday evening and search operations were suspended till Monday morning. There were 72 passengers on board, including four crew members.

“It is dark now and the accident site is a river valley where it is difficult to work at night,” he said.

Rescue teams are involved in recovering bodies from the crash site of the Eti Airlines flight.


Photo:

Rohit Giri/REUTERS

The passenger list includes 53 Nepalis, five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans and one each from Australia, Argentina, France and Ireland, Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority said. The aviation regulator has released the names of all the passengers on its Twitter account.

Tribhupan Boutel, 37, publisher and editor of a local newspaper in Pokhara, was on his way home to celebrate the morning of Maghe Sankranti, a Nepali Hindu festival, with his family after attending a press conference in Kathmandu. His friend Manoj Basnet is a media executive based in Kathmandu.

Tribupan Boutel, a local newspaper editor in Pokhara, Nepal, was on board the Eti Airlines flight that crashed.


Photo:

Manoj Basnet

“He rose through the struggles of his life and was always ready to help those he could, including his friends,” Mr. Bassnett said. Mr. Boutal is survived by his mother, wife and 3-year-old son.

Flight number YT-691 took off from the capital city of Kathmandu at 10:32 am local time on a regular 30-minute journey, the civil aviation authority said. The plane had its last contact with the Pokhara airport tower at 10:50 am from the Sethi river valley and crashed soon after.

Flightradar24, a flight tracking site, claimed that the ATR 72-500 aircraft was 15 years old and was equipped with an old transponder with unreliable data. In a Twitter post, 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 was manufactured by the aircraft manufacturer ATR

Airbus SE

And

Leonardo

Spa.

Toulouse, France-based ATR said in a statement that it has been informed of an incident involving an ATR 72-500 in Nepal.

“ATR specialists are fully engaged in supporting both the investigation and the client,” it said.

Pokhara is a popular tourist destination, with many flocking to the lakeside town for trekking and yoga. According to the World Bank, Nepal relies heavily on tourism revenue, with the industry accounting for 6.7% of the country’s GDP in 2019, and the tourism sector supported more than one million jobs in Nepal.

Following the accident, Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has called an emergency cabinet meeting. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation said the government has set up a five-member inquiry committee comprising retired government officials and aviation safety experts to find out the cause of the accident and make recommendations to prevent similar incidents in the future. The Inquiry Committee will be given 45 days to submit its report.

Rescue workers sift through the wreckage of the Eti Airlines turboprop plane.


Photo:

Yunish Gurung/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Plane crashes in Nepal have occurred in recent years, with bad weather sometimes being blamed. Nepal has 8 of the world’s 14 highest mountain peaks, including Mount Everest.

Last May, a Tara Air flight carrying 22 people crashed in the Himalayas, killing all on board. Government officials said the flight took off from Pokhara and went down due to bad weather.

In 2018, A US-Bangla Airlines flight It took off from the Bangladeshi capital at Kathmandu airport and burst into flames, killing 51 of the 71 people on board. A government inquiry blamed pilot error for the crash, saying he was suffering from severe mental illness.

On Sunday Mr. Basnet two months ago Mr. He remembers his last words with Boutal. “He asked me when I plan to visit Pokhara next time,” Mr. Bassnett said.

While trying to find his footing as a media professional in Pokhara a decade ago, Mr. Boutel Mr. Assisted by Basnet, Mr. Bassnett recalled. They did not see each other for a while, but Mr. Boutel, on social media Mr. He said he was following Basnet’s posts.

“You are doing well in life. Keep up the good work,” Mr. Bassnett remembered his friend saying.

Write to Krishna Pokharel at [email protected] and Shan Li at [email protected]

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