Sunday 19 August 2018

At least 50 dead as Bangladeshi plane crashes at airport

Nepalese firemen spray water on the debris after a passenger plane from Bangladesh crashed at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: AP
Nepalese firemen spray water on the debris after a passenger plane from Bangladesh crashed at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: AP

Carole Hedderest in Kathmandu

A Bangladeshi airliner crashed yesterday after making an unexpected turn in cloudy weather as it came in to land at the airport in Nepal's capital, killing at least 50 people.

There were 71 people onboard the US-Bangla Airlines plane arriving from Dhaka when it clipped the fence in Kathmandu and burst into flames, said Raj Kumar Chettri, general manager of Tribhuvan International Airport.

Those aboard included 33 Nepali passengers, with 32 from Bangladesh, one from China and one from the Maldives.

One of the survivors, Basanta Bohora, said: "All of a sudden the plane shook violently and there was a loud bang. I was seated near a window and was able to break out."

The accident was the latest to hit mountainous Nepal, which has a poor record of air safety. Small aircraft ply an extensive domestic network and often run into trouble at remote airstrips.

"We have recovered 50 dead bodies so far," said army spokesman Gokul Bhandari.

Although several people had been rescued from the burning wreckage of the Bombardier Q400 series aircraft, nine people were still unaccounted for, he added.

Mr Chettri said that moments after the plane received permission to land, the pilot said he wanted to go in a northern direction.

Asked by the control tower whether there was a problem, he replied in the negative.

The plane was then seen making two rounds in a northeast direction, Mr Chettri said. Traffic controllers again asked the pilot whether things were OK, and he replied, "Yes".

The tower then told the pilot his alignment was not correct, but there was no reply, Mr Chettri added.

"The plane should have come from the right direction," Mr Chettri said, adding that it hit the airport fence, touched the ground and then caught fire.

The aircraft descended to an altitude of 4,400 feet and then climbed to 6,600 feet before crashing about two minutes later.

Irish Independent

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