The country’s deadliest plane crash in more than 30 years occurred on Sunday when an aircraft crashed nearby the city of Pokhara in central Nepal, killing at least 68 people, according to a government official.
According to Yeti Airlines spokeswoman Sudarshan Bartaula, 72 individuals total—68 passengers and four crew members—were aboard the ATR 72 aircraft when it crashed. According to Nepal’s civil aviation authorities, there were 37 males, 25 women, three children, and three newborns.
According to Army spokesman Krishna Prasad Bhandar, search operations were suspended after sundown and would pick up again Monday morning. Before that, Bhandar added, hundreds of first responders were still searching for the last four people.
According to Nepal’s civil aviation authorities, there are at least one or two infants among the deceased.
According to information from the Aviation Safety Network, Sunday’s disaster was the third-deadliest crash in the history of the Himalayan nation. Only two instances in 1992 resulted in more fatalities: in July and September. There were 113 and 167 fatalities in such collisions, which involved aircraft operated by Pakistan International and Thai Airways, respectively.
According to the civil aviation authority, all four crew members and 53 of the passengers were from Nepal. There were also fifteen international passengers aboard the aircraft: five Indians, four Russians, and two Koreans. The remainder were individual Australian, Argentinean, French, and Irish citizens.
According to the nation’s official newspaper, The Rising Nepal, the plane had been travelling from the capital, Kathmandu, to Pokhara, the second-most populous city in the nation. About 129 kilometres (80 miles) west of Kathmandu is where you’ll find Pokahara.
Around 18 minutes after departure, at around 10:50 a.m. local time, the aircraft lost contact with Pokhara Airport. Following that, it crashed into the neighbouring Seti River Gorge. The Nepal Army and many police agencies have sent first responders to the crash scene to conduct a rescue effort, according to a statement from the civil aviation authorities.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the prime minister of Nepal, expressed his “deep sadness” over the fatal event.
Dahal posted on Twitter, “I earnestly appeal to the security personnel, all government agencies of Nepal, and the general population to initiate an effective rescue.”
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Sunday he was “deeply grieved” to hear about the crash and that his thoughts were “with the affected families.”
In remembrance of the disaster victims, Nepal’s Yeti Airlines announced it would postpone all scheduled flights on Monday, January 16.
The Himalayan nation of Nepal, which is home to eight of the fourteen highest mountains in the world, including Everest, has a history of aviation mishaps. Airstrips are often located in difficult-to-reach mountainous regions, and the weather can change quickly there.
22 people were on board a Tara Air flight that crashed into a Himalayan mountain last May at a height of roughly 14,500 feet. According to the Aviation Safety Network database, that was the nation’s 19th plane disaster in the past ten years and its 10th deadly one.
An ATR 72-500 twin-prop turbojet, popular among low-cost carriers in the Asia-Pacific area, was the plane that crashed on Sunday. ATR aeroplanes normally have an excellent reputation. ATR is a joint venture between the European aerospace giants Airbus and Leonardo.
They have, however, been in collisions previously. In February and July 2015, two ATR 72s flown by the now-defunct Taiwanese carrier Transasia were fatally crashed. Taiwanese authorities temporarily grounded all ATR 72s registered on the island as a result of the second incident.
In total, the ATR 72’s various models had been involved in 11 fatal incidents before Sunday’s crash in Nepal, according to the Aviation Safety Network.
ATR said in a statement Sunday that it had been informed of the accident.
“Our first thoughts are with all the individuals affected by this,” the statement read. “ATR specialists are fully engaged to support both the investigation and the customer.”