Rescue workers have resumed the search for four people missing after Nepal’s deadliest plane crash in 30 years, officials said.
The ATR 72 aircraft was operated by Yeti Airlines. 72 people were on board at the time of the accident. Minutes before landing in clear weather on Sunday in the tourist town of Pokhara.
Rescue workers have recovered 68 bodies so far.
Nepal declared a day of mourning on Monday and set up a panel to investigate the accident and suggest measures to avoid such incidents in the future.
It was not immediately clear what caused the crash.
The plane was on a scheduled flight from Nepal’s capital Kathmandu to Pokhara, the gateway to the scenic Annapurna mountain range, carrying 57 Nepalese, five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans and one each from Argentina, Ireland, Australia and France. A person was riding. .
Pokhara police official Ajay KC said the search and rescue operation, which was called off on Sunday due to nightfall, has now resumed.
He said: “We will retrieve five bodies from the gorge and search for the remaining four who are still missing.”
He said that other 63 bodies have been sent to the hospital.
Rescue workers are also searching for black boxes – a cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder – a spokesman for Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority said.
Officials say that after identification and examination, the bodies will be handed over to the relatives.
Photos and videos shared on Twitter showed plumes of smoke rising from the crash site as rescue workers, soldiers and crowds gathered around the wreckage to search for survivors.
The body of the plane was broken into several parts which were scattered at the bottom of the gorge.
Tek Bahadur KC, a senior administrative officer in Kaski district, said he hoped rescue workers would find more bodies from the bottom of the ditch.
Local resident Bishnu Tiwari, who rushed to the crash site to help in the search, said thick smoke and fire engulfing the plane hampered rescue efforts.
“The flames were so hot that we could not go near the wreckage,” he said.
An eyewitness, Gaurav Gurung, said he saw the plane spinning violently in the air as it attempted to land.
He added that he saw the plane first fall to his left and then fall into the gorge.
“The plane caught fire after the crash. There was smoke everywhere,” Mr Gurung said.
At the crash site near the Seti River, about a mile from Pokhara International Airport, rescuers sprayed fire hoses and ran ropes to another patch of debris below.
The aviation authority said the plane last touched down at the airport near Siti Gorge at 10.50 am local time.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who arrived at the airport after the accident, has constituted a panel to investigate the accident.
He said that the incident was sad. The entire force of Nepalese army, police has been deployed for rescue.
This type of aircraft is used by many airlines around the world for short regional flights.
Introduced in the late 1980s by a French and Italian partnership, the model has been involved in several fatal accidents over the years.
In 2018, an ATR 72 operated by Iran’s Aseman Airlines crashed in a foggy, mountainous area, killing all 65 people on board.
In a tweet, ATR identified the aircraft involved in Sunday’s crash as an ATR 72-500.
According to flightradar24.com’s aircraft tracking data, the plane was 15 years old and “equipped with an old transponder with unreliable data”.
According to records on Airfleets.net, the Yeti was flown by India’s Kingfisher Airlines and Thailand’s Nok Air before its takeover in 2019.
Yeti Airlines has a fleet of six ATR72-500 aircraft, company spokesperson Sudarshan Bertola said.
Sunday’s crash is Nepal’s deadliest since 1992, when a Pakistan International Airlines flight killed all 167 people on board when it crashed into a mountain while trying to land in Kathmandu.
About 350 people have died in plane or helicopter crashes in Nepal since 2000 – eight out of 14 in the world.
The highest mountains, including Everest – where sudden changes in weather can lead to dangerous conditions.
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