Over 50 killed in Nepal plane crash, says official

Marie Harrington
March 13, 2018

BREAKING First picture from crash site, the turboprop aircraft appears to be a Bombardier Dash-8 Q400.

The Dhaka-based US-Bangla Airlines launched just four years ago and made its first global flight in May 2016 to Kathmandu.

Raj Kumar Chhetri, general manager at the Tirubhavan International Airport (TIA), said that the aircraft skidded off the runaway after attempting to land in the "wrong direction against the order of the control room".

Chettri said that moments after the plane received permission to land, the pilot said he wanted to go in a northern direction.

A recording of the conversation between the pilot and air traffic control minutes before the crash suggests some misunderstanding over which end of the sole runway the plane was cleared to land on.

Witnesses described a chaotic rescue operation in a football field near the Tribhuvan International Airport, as rescue personnel and soldiers from the Nepal's army pulled survivors from the wreckage and a thick plume of black smoke covered the sky.

This screengrab of video footage from the Facebook account of Nitin Keyal shows smoke rising from the site of the crash
Passenger Plane Crashes, Catches Fire at Nepal Airport

Autopsies on the dead were being performed at the Kathmandu Medical College and Teaching Hospital morgue, where some 200 relatives waited to hear about their loved ones.

Recordings show apparent confusion between the pilot and air traffic control over the runway approach at Kathmandu airport as Nepal Tuesday began investigating its deadliest plane crash in decades.

US-Bangla Airlines' Asif, however, said that wrong signals might have led to the crash.

"It was flying so low I thought it was going to run into the mountains", said Ms Summers, who watched the crash from the terrace of her home office, not far from the airport.

The plane landed at 14:20 local time (08:35 GMT), according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24. But in 2007, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) grounded its fleet of Dash 8s after three crash landings in two months that year.

Nepali Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli spoke to his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina following the incident and expressed sorrow over the loss of lives. "She gave a thumbs up, but I could see she was panicking", said Ashish Ranjit, 35, who escaped through a window on the plane's right. Officials said 32 Bangladeshi nationals, 33 Nepalis, one Chinese national and one Maldivian citizen were among the 71 people aboard. It is a subsidiary of US-Bangla Group, a United States-Bangladesh joint venture company. The airport was closed for a few hours.

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