Nepal mourns after deadly plane crash, search for missing resumes | Aviation News

Rescuers had recovered 68 bodies out of the 72 people on board the Yeti Airlines plane that crashed in Pokhara on Sunday.

Rescuers in Nepal have resumed searching for four people still missing after the Himalayan nation’s deadliest plane crash in 30 years, as the Himalayan nation observes a day of mourning.

Rescuers recovered 68 bodies out of the 72 people on board the ATR 72 aircraft operated by Yeti Airlines that crashed in the tourist city of Pokhara minutes before landing on Sunday in clear weather.

The plane, on a scheduled 27-minute flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara, gateway to the scenic Annapurna mountain range, was carrying 57 Nepalis, five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans, and one person each from Argentina, Ireland, Australia and France.

Pokhara police official Ajay K C said the search-and-rescue operation, which stopped because of darkness on Sunday, had resumed.

“We will take out the five bodies from the gorge and search for the remaining four that are still missing,” he told the Reuters news agency on Monday.

The other 63 bodies had been sent to a hospital, he said. Authorities said bodies will be handed over to families after identification and examination.

Nepalese rescue workers and civilians gather around the wreckage of a passenger plane that crashed in Pokhara, Nepal
Rescue workers and civilians gather around the wreckage of the plane that crashed in Nepal [Krishna Mani Baral/AP]

At least one witness reported hearing cries for help from within the fiery wreck, said a report by The Associated Press.

Local resident Bishnu Tiwari, who rushed to the crash site near the Seti River to help search for bodies, said the rescue efforts were hampered by thick smoke and a raging fire.

“The flames were so hot that we couldn’t go near the wreckage. I heard a man crying for help, but because of the flames and smoke we couldn’t help him,” Tiwari said.

Rescuers were also searching for the black boxes – a cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder – as they looked for survivors, said Jagannath Niroula, a spokesperson for Nepal’s civil aviation authority.

It was not immediately clear what caused the accident, the authority said. Pokhara’s new international airport began operations only two weeks ago.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal rushed to the airport after the crash. He also announced the setting up of a panel to investigate the disaster and suggest measures to avoid such incidents in the future.

Nearly 350 people have died since 2000 in plane or helicopter crashes in Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest, where sudden weather changes can make for hazardous conditions.

According to the Flight Safety Foundation’s Aviation Safety database, there have been 42 fatal plane crashes in Nepal since 1946.

Sunday’s crash is Nepal’s deadliest since 1992, when all 167 people aboard a Pakistan International Airlines plane were killed when it plowed into a hill as it tried to land in Kathmandu.

The European Union has banned airlines from Nepal from flying into the 27-nation bloc since 2013, citing weak safety standards, according to the AP report.

In 2017, the International Civil Aviation Organisation cited improvements in Nepal’s aviation sector, but the EU continues to demand administrative reforms.

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