The country’s deadliest plane crash in more than 30 years occurred on Sunday when an aircraft crashed near Pokhara in central Nepal, killing at least 68 people, according to a government official. According to Yeti Airlines spokeswoman Sudarshan Bartaula, 72 individuals—68 passengers and four crew members—were aboard the ATR 72 aircraft when it crashed. According to Nepal’s civil aviation authorities, there were 37 males, 25 women, three children, and three newborns.
According to Army spokesman Krishna Prasad Bhandar, search operations were suspended after sundown and would pick up again Monday morning. Before that, Bhandar added, hundreds of first responders were still searching for the last four people. According to Nepal’s civil aviation authorities, at least one or two infants are among the deceased.
According to data from the Aviation Safety Network, the event on Sunday was the third-deadliest crash in the history of the Himalayan country. Only two instances in 1992 resulted in more fatalities: in July and September. There were 113 and 167 fatalities in such collisions involving aircraft operated by Pakistan International and Thai Airways, respectively.
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According to the civil aviation authority, all four crew members and 53 passengers were from Nepal. There were also fifteen international passengers aboard the aircraft: five Indians, four Russians, and two Koreans. The remainder were individual Australian, Argentinean, French, and Irish citizens. According to the country’s state media, The Rising Nepal, the plane had been traveling from Kathmandu, the capital, to Pokhara, the second-most populated city in the nation and a gateway to the Himalayas. About 129 kilometers (80 miles) west of Kathmandu, you’ll find Pokhara.
Around 18 minutes after departure, at around 10:50 a.m. local time, the aircraft lost contact with Pokhara Airport. Following that, it crashed into the neighboring Seti River Gorge. The Nepal Army and many police agencies have sent first responders to the crash scene to conduct a rescue effort, according to a statement from the civil aviation authorities.
Deeply saddened to hear of the air crash in Pokhara, Nepal, today. My heartfelt sympathies to all the families who have been affected @FCDOGovUK @UKinNepal https://t.co/oLeCXhknDP
— Anne-Marie Trevelyan (@annietrev) January 15, 2023
A five-person committee has also been created to determine what caused the collision. According to Nepal’s deputy prime minister and government spokesperson Bishnu Paudel, the quintet must deliver a report to the government within 45 days. Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the prime minister of Nepal, expressed his “deep sadness” over the fatal event. Dahal posted on Twitter, “I earnestly appeal to the security personnel, all government agencies of Nepal, and the general population to initiate an effective rescue.”
According to a prime minister’s spokeswoman, the government designated Monday a national holiday to remember the deaths. The Russian President and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent their sympathies, as did Australia’s envoy to Nepal. In remembrance of the disaster victims, Nepal’s Yeti Airlines announced it would postpone all scheduled flights on Monday, January 16.
The Himalayan nation of Nepal, which is home to eight of the fourteen highest mountains in the world, including Everest, has a history of aviation mishaps. Airstrips are often located in difficult-to-reach mountainous regions, and the weather can change quickly. 22 people were on board a Tara Air flight that crashed into a Himalayan mountain last May at the height of roughly 14,500 feet. According to the Aviation Safety Network database, that was the nation’s 19th plane disaster in the past ten years and its 10th deadly one.
ATR has been informed that an accident occurred in Nepal involving an ATR 72-500. Our first thoughts are with all the individuals affected by this. The ATR specialists are fully engaged to support both the investigation and the customer.
— ATR (@ATRaircraft) January 15, 2023
An ATR 72-500 twin-prop turbojet, popular among low-cost carriers in the Asia-Pacific area, was the plane that crashed on Sunday. ATR airplanes typically have an excellent reputation. ATR is a joint venture between the European aerospace giants Airbus and Leonardo. They have, however, been in collisions previously. In February and July 2015, two ATR 72s flown by the now-defunct Taiwanese carrier Transasia were fatally crashed.
Taiwanese authorities temporarily grounded all ATR 72s registered on the island due to the second incident. Before Sunday’s tragedy in Nepal, 11 tragic events involving various ATR 72 types had been reported to the Aviation Safety Network. In a statement released Sunday, ATR stated that it had been made aware of the incident. The information added, “Our first thoughts are all affected by this.” ATR experts are committed to helping the investigation and the consumer.
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