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At least 50 killed in Nepal's worst plane crash in decades

by 12/03/2018 13:00:00 0 comments 1 Views

An airport source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there may have been confusion between air traffic control and the pilot over which runway the plane was meant to land on.

Eyewitnesses said the plane crashed as it made a second approach towards the airport, bursting into flames after coming to a halt in a football pitch next to the runway.

"It should have come straight but it went in the other direction," said airport cleaner Sushil Chaudhary, who saw the crash.

"I was worried it would hit another aircraft, but the pilot pulled the plane up. But then it crashed towards the field."

Nepal Army spokesman Gokul Bhandaree said seven of the victims survived the impact but later died of their injuries.

Airline spokesman Kamrul Islam told AFP 33 of the passengers were Nepali, 32 were Bangladeshi, one was Chinese and one from the Maldives. Local media reported that many of the Nepali passengers were college students returning home for a holiday.

The plane was a Canadian-made Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprop, Mahbubur Rahman of Bangladesh's civil aviation ministry told AFP. Other sources said the aircraft was 17 years old.

"There might be technical problems on the aircraft. But it has to be probed before making a final statement," Rahman told AFP.

'Challenging terrain'

Kathmandu airport briefly closed after the accident, forcing inbound flights to divert, but it has since reopened.

It is Nepal's only international airport and experts say the surrounding Himalayan landscape makes it testing for pilots coming into land.

"The landing at Kathmandu because of the terrain is a little challenging," said Gabriele Ascenzo, a Canadian pilot who runs aviation safety courses in Nepal.

Depending on the direction of approach, pilots have to fly over high terrain before making a steep descent towards the airport, Ascenzo added.

The accident is the deadliest since September 1992, when all 167 people aboard a Pakistan International Airlines plane were killed when it crashed as it approached Kathmandu airport.

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