Tuesday, March 20, 2018 | ePaper

US-Bangla aircraft crashes in Kathmandu; 50 killed

It carrying 67 passengers including 32 BD nationals

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At least 50 people died as an aircraft of US-Bangla Airlines from Dhaka to Kathmandu crashed at Tribhuvan International Airport in the capital of the Himalayan country on Monday, said officials.

Many injured were rushed to nearby hospitals, officials added.

The death toll remained unclear amid the chaos of the crash and the rush of badly injured victims to nearby hospitals. Brig. Gen. Gokul Bhandari, the Nepal army spokesman, said 50 people had died and the fate of the others was unknown, reports AP.

But a police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said at least 38 people had died, 23 had been injured and 10 were unaccounted for.

The official said 10 people remained unaccounted for in Monday's crash.

Earlier, Md Kamrul Islam, General Manager (GM), Marketing Support and PR of US-Bangla Airlines, confirmed UNB about the accident.

The flight was carrying 67 passengers - 32 from Bangladesh, 33 from Nepal and one each from China and the Maldives, according to airlines sources.

There were four crewmembers on board, but did not provide their nationalities.

Nepal's Tourism Ministry Joint Secretary Suresh Acharya said 17 injured passengers have been rescued and sent to different hospitals for treatment, reports Kathmandu Post.

The aircraft reportedly left Dhaka at 12:30pm which was scheduled to arrive at 2:15 pm.

The plane can reportedly carry 78 passengers and firefighters were at the scene trying to extinguish a fire, BBC reported quoting local news site My Republica.

The plane, a twin-propeller Bombardier Dash 8 flying from Bangladesh, swerved repeatedly before it crashed, landing near the runway.

A passenger plane from Bangladesh crashed and burst into flames as it landed Monday at the Kathmandu airport in Nepal, killing at least a dozen people, officials and witnesses said.

The twin propeller plane, a Bombardier Dash 8, can carry about 70 passengers, though it was not immediately clear how many people were on board.

At least 12 bodies have been recovered, according to an AP journalist who arrived at the scene soon after the crash and saw the US-Bangla Airlines plane broken into several large pieces, with dozens of firefighters and rescue workers clustered around the wreckage.

An airline official said some injured passengers had been taken away by ambulance.

The plane from US-Bangla, a Bangladeshi airline, went off the runway while landing and crashed on the east side of Tribhuvan International Airport's runway, the Kathmandu Post reported.

An airport spokesperson told the paper that many casualties were feared.

The plane was identified in local media as S2-AGU, a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, but this has not been officially confirmed yet.

The flight landed at TIA airport, also known as Kathmandu International Airport, at 14:20 local time (08:35 GMT), according to flight tracking website.

Photos and video posted on social media showed smoke rising from an airport runway.

Director General of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) Sanjiv Gautam said that the plane was out of control when it attempted to land on the runway.

"The aircraft was permitted to land from the Southern tip of the runway flying over Koteshwor but it landed from the Northern side," Gautam told Kathmandu Post suspecting the aircraft might have sustained some technical glitches.

"We are yet to ascertain the reason behind the unusual landing," he added.

According to TIA spokesperson Prem Nath Thakur, the 76-seater Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft caught fire after it careened off the runway during landing and crashed onto a football ground near TIA.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam said officials from Bangladesh Mission are already on the spot and hospital.

Bangladesh Mission in Nepal opened a hotline - Md. Al alamul Emam (Consular +9779810100401) and Asit Baran Sarker (+9779861467422).

When contacted, Bangladesh's Ambassador to Nepal Mashfee Binte Shams told UNB that she is in a meeting with Nepalese Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli.

It is expected that the meeting was meant for expediting rescue process and speedy treatment of those who are rescued.

An AP journalist who arrived at the scene soon after the crash saw the US-Bangla Airlines twin-propeller plane broken into several large pieces, with dozens of firefighters and rescue workers clustered around the wreckage in a grassy field near the runway. Hundreds of people stood on a nearby hill, staring down at what remained of the Bombardier Dash 8.

The plane swerved repeatedly as it prepared to land in Kathmandu, said Amanda Summers, an American working in Nepal. The crowded city sits in a valley in the Himalayan foothills.

"It was flying so low I thought it was going to run into the mountains," said Summers, who watched the crash from the terrace of her home office, not far from the airport. "All of a sudden there was a blast and then another blast."

Fire crews put out the flames quickly, perhaps within a minute, she said, though for a time clouds of thick, dark smoke rose into the sky above the city.

The plane had circled the airport twice as it waited for clearance to land, Mohammed Selim, the airline's manager in Kathmandu, told Dhaka-based Somoy TV station by telephone.

US-Bangla Airlines operates Boeing 737-800 and smaller Bombardier Dash 8 Q-400 planes.

The airline, part of US-Bangla Group, is based in Dhaka, and flies to several domestic and international destinations. The parent company is involved in a number of industries, including real estate, education and agriculture.

Kathmandu's airport has been the site of several deadly crashes. In September 2012, a Sita Air turboprop plane carrying trekkers to Mount Everest hit a bird and crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 19 on board.

The private carrier US-Bangla Airlines spread its wings beyond the Bangladeshi airspace on May 15 in 2016 with its maiden international flight to Kathmandu. It operates Dhaka-Kathmandu flights four times a week. -- Dhaka, UNB

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