At least 50 people were killed when a Bangladeshi airliner with 71 people on board crashed while landing at the airport in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu on Monday.
An airport official confirmed the crash of the US-Bangla Airlines flight at Tribhuvan International Airport. An army spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying that at least 50 people were killed. However, Nepal Police spokesperson Manoj Neupane confirmed a total of 40 deaths. He said 31 bodies were recovered at the crash site and nine others died in hospital.
Airport authorities said the fire in the plane had been controlled and rescue efforts were underway. At least 25 people were brought out of the plane and sent to nearby hospitals, officials said. The twin-engine turboprop airliner was carrying 67 passengers and four crew members from the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, to Kathmandu, said airport spokesman Prem Nath Thakur.
The passengers included 37 men, 27 women and two children. Thirty-three of the passengers were Nepalese nationals.
A huge plume of smoke was seen over the airport after the Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft crashed at 2.20 pm local time and caught fire. Airport officials said the plane went off the runway and careened into a football ground near the airport. Emergency responders and ambulances rushed to the football field.
“The plane shoot off the runway while it was about to crash into the hangar and immediately caught fire,” an airport official was quoted as saying by Himalayan Times.
The plane “became unstable” while descending, another airport official said. Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal director general Sanjiv Gautam said: “The aircraft was permitted to land from the southern side of the runway flying over Koteshwor but it landed from the northern side.”
Noting that the aircraft may have been affected by technical glitches, he added, “We are yet to ascertain the reason behind the unusual landing.” Amanda Summers, an American who works in Nepal, watched the crash from the terrace of her home office, not far from the airport.
“It was flying so low I thought it was going to run into the mountains,” she said. “All of a sudden there was a blast and then another blast,” she added. All flights in and out of the Tribhuvan International Airport were cancelled.
US-Bangla Airlines is owned by US-Bangla Group, a joint venture company with offices in Dhaka, New York, India and other Asian hubs. It has been operating since 2014 out of its home airport in Bangladesh.
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