At least 67 people were killed after a passenger airplane with 72 people on board crashed near Pokhara International Airport in Nepal on Sunday (January 15), reported AFP. The officially declared death toll stands at 29 currently. It was a Yeti Airlines flight. Rescue operations were still underway at the time of the filing of this report and the airport had been closed. Death toll is feared to increase. Those on board included three infants and three children. There were five Indians on the flight.

A press statement by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal informed that there were 53 passengers from Nepal, 5 from India, 4 from Russian, 2 from Korea, and one each from Ireland, Australia, Argentina and France on the flight. 

Pokhara is a city about 200 kilometres from Nepalese capital Kathmandu.

Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda and Home Minister Ravi Lamichane were at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu overseeing the rescue effort.

The Nepal government formed a five-member commission of inquiry to probe the Yeti Airlines plane crash in Pokhara. The emergency meeting of the Council of Ministers also announced a public holiday on January 16 to mourn the victims of the Yeti Airlines plane crash. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel said that the government has decided to observe one day of mourning.


(Image: ANI)

“The incident was tragic. All forces have been deployed for rescue (operations). The investigation is going on now. I have called an emergency cabinet meeting, and I am going to the cabinet meeting,” Prachanda told the media earlier.

As per the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Yeti Airlines’ 9N-ANC ATR-72 aircraft took off from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport at 10:33 am. 

The aircraft crashed while it was trying to land at Pokhara airport. It crashed on the bank of the Seti river between the old airport and the new.

Plane crashes are common in Nepal, which has a poor flight safety record.

Nepali airlines are banned from European Union airspace since 2013 after eight Britons were killed in a Kathmandu plane crash.

In May 2022, all the 22 people, including four Indians, onboard a Tara Air flight on a Canadian-built turboprop Twin Otter 9N-AET plane were killed after it had crashed in Nepal’s mountainous Mustang district after departing from Pokhara.

The Yeti Air crash on Sunday was the deadliest in Nepal since 1992, when a Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A300 had crashed. On September 28, 1992, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Flight 268 had crashed while approaching Kathmandu-Tribhuvan Airport (KTM). All 167 passengers and crew were killed, making it the deadliest ever crash involving PIA and the worst crash in the history of Nepalese aviation.

Nepal, a Himalayan country, has some of the world’s most remote and trickiest runways. Many of these are located between high, snow-capped mountain peaks, something that throws up challenges for even the most experienced pilots.

Nepal’s aviation industry has been plagued by poor safety records. Insufficient training and maintenance are said to be the reasons.

Aircraft operators say Nepal lacks infrastructure for accurate weather forecasts, especially in remote areas with challenging mountainous terrain where deadly crashes have taken place in the past. 

The weather can also change quickly in the mountains, creating treacherous flying conditions.

(With inputs from agencies)

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