Premnath Thakur, head of Tribhuvan International Airport, said that he was surprised by the accident as they had already given permission for landing. “The pilot did not inform that there was any problem,” he said
Vikas Basyal of Seti Khonch in Pokhara was basking in the sun outside his house around 10.30 am on Sunday. He noticed an aircraft of Yeti Airlines flying above him and suddenly heard a loud thud.
“I realized the plane had crashed. I opened the gate and ran towards the site, the plane was on fire,” he said. According to him, the aircraft bumped before falling into the gorge. “I rescued two people, who were alive. But they died in Gandaki Hospital, Pokhara.”
According to the Tribhuvan International Airport Civil Aviation Authority, 72 people, including four crew members, were on board the plane that crashed. There were five Indians, four Russians, two Koreans and 1 each from Ireland, Australian and French nationals. Nepali Army spokesperson Krishna Paudel said the bodies of 68 of them were removed from the crash site. “The bodies are kept at Gandaki Hospital of Pokhara,” he said.
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According to him, only 11 of the dead have been identified so far. Nepal’s journalist Tribhuvan Paudel, a local of Parbat Arun Paudel, his daughter Prashmi Paudel, Dr. Sushil Shrestha, Dr. Sena Diwakar, Sangeeta Shahi, Lakshmi Paudel, Adakat Alimia, Nishant Acharya, Purnakumri Gurung, Korean citizen U Kyangul are among those who died.
PILOT EXPERIENCED, WAS AN INSTRUCTOR
The aircraft was led by 60-year-old pilot Kamal KC. According to the airport officials, he was not only an experienced pilot, but also a pilot instructor. Just a week ago, he returned to Nepal after training pilots in Thailand. Despite the age limit of 65 years, he was planning to retire next year and give time to his family. He had studied piloting from USA and had been continuously flying in Nepali sky since 2004.
According to Ajay KC, Chief of District Police Office, Kaski, the bodies are not in a condition that they can be identified. “We will send the dead bodies that cannot be identified to Kathmandu for DNA testing”, KC said. “Their bodies will be tested at the Teaching Hospital at Maharajjung in capital Kathmandu.”
Officials involved in the rescue said there is very little possibility of finding four more people, who are missing at the accident site, alive. According to DSP Shailendra Thapa, co-spokesperson of the Armed Police Force, a team of pearl-divers has also been sent from Chitwan for the search operation.
58TH AIR ACCIDENT IN NEPAL
The place where the plane crashed is a famous tourist area in central Nepal. The new international airport was inaugurated only 15 days ago on January 1.
Sanjeev Gautam, former Director General of Nepal Civil Aviation Authority, said the accident happened near the newly opened international airport.
According to Gautam, the accident is the largest domestic incident flight mishap in Nepal in terms of human casualties. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, this accident is the 58th accident in Nepal so far.
In 2000, 25 passengers had died in a flight accident in Dadeldhura, Jobudha in western Nepal.
PILOT ASKED FOR ANOTHER RUNWAY?
The plane took off from Kathmandu to Pokhara at 10:32 Nepali time on Sunday morning. According to the Airport Civil Aviation Office, the plane flown by the crew led by Captain Kamal KC came in contact with Pokhara Tower’s Air Traffic Controller (ATC) at 10:50 for the last time.
According to the preliminary investigation, the accident took place within a minute of contacting the ATC at Pokhara International Airport. According to the officials at the airport, Captain KC was asked to land through Runway 30 when he came in contact with the tower. However, he says that KC asked for another runway.
“Instead of landing through Runway 30, the captain asked for another runway, saying that he will come from Runway 12″, the official said, “The accident happened just as the clearance was given to come from Runway 12.”
Premnath Thakur, head of Tribhuvan International Airport, said that he is surprised by the accident as they had already given permission for landing. He said, “The pilot did not inform that there was any problem.”
According to him, there was no problem with the weather. He said that it was found that the plane crashed while taking the landing approach.
On March 12, 2018, a US-Bangla plane crashed at the Tribhuvan International Airport due to the confusion between runways 02 and 20, killing 51 people.
INQUIRY COMMISSION FORMED
After the plane crash, Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ called an emergency cabinet meeting. At the meeting, a five-member commission, under the co-ordination of Nagendra Ghimire, former secretary of the Government of Nepal, was formed to investigate the accident.
The committee includes former Captain of Nepal Army Deepak Prasad Bastola, former Captain Sunil Thapa, and ship maintenance engineer Ekraj Jung Thapa.
The government has instructed all air service companies to conduct mandatory technical tests to prevent accidents in domestic flights. The government has also announced a public holiday in Nepal on Monday to mourn the plane crash.
This story was originally published at CNN News18.com