Plane Crashes in Nepal, 72 Dead

By Nadia Liu

Public Relations

A plane crash near Pokhara, Nepal, killed 68 people on Jan. 15 in the worst Nepalese air crash in three decades. The plane was a Yeti Airlines ATR-72 on an approximately thirty-minute flight from Kathmandu, the capital, to Pokhara. Tek Bahadur KC, the chief administrator of the district of Kaski, where the crash occurred, explained that due to the plane crashing into a gorge, rescuers struggled to reach the site while avoiding smoke. Hundreds of rescuers from the Nepal Police, Nepal Army, and the local community mobilized to the area, where the plane had broken into three large pieces. 

To reach remote parts of the country, many people rely on small, twin-engine planes like the ATR-72. In recent years, flying hazards including poor visibility, rapidly changing weather conditions, and old planes have caused a number of crashes; nearly 350 people have died since 2000 in a plane or helicopter crash in Nepal. In May of 2022, a plane carrying 22 people crashed during a 20- minute flight in the same area, with no survivors. 

For Nepal, tourism is a major source of foreign exchange and revenue, and an industry that is still rebounding from the pandemic. According to Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority, out of the 68 people killed in the crash, five were from India, four from Russia, two from South Korea, and one each from Australia, Argentina, France and Ireland.

The plane was supposed to land at the newly inaugurated Pokhara International Airport. A spokesman for the airport stated that the plane crashed as it approached the airport, cruising at 12,500 feet on a normal descent with clear weather conditions. Nepal’s government established a five-member committee to investigate the cause of the crash, with results due within 45 days. The French Civil Aviation Safety agency agreed to aid the investigation and announced that four French investigators would be on-site by Jan. 24. Additionally, the Russian Investigative Committee declared that they are opening a criminal case to investigate the circumstances of the crash. 

On Jan. 16, Yeti canceled all of its regular flights in “mourning for the passengers who lost their lives.” ATR, a joint partnership between European aeronautics companies Airbus and Leonardo and the company responsible for creating the aircraft, wrote, “Our first thoughts are with all the individuals affected by this,” the statement read. “ATR specialists are fully engaged to support both the investigation and the customer.” Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said in a statement he was “deeply saddened by the sad and tragic accident.” 

(Sources: BBC, CNN, NY Times)


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