At least 68 people were killed on Sunday when a domestic flight crashed in Pokhara in Nepal, the country’s Civil Aviation Authority said, in the worst air crash in three decades in the small Himalayan nation.
Hundreds of rescue workers scoured the hillside where the Yeti Airlines flight, carrying 72 people from the capital Kathmandu, went down.
Local TV showed rescue workers scrambling around broken sections of the aircraft. Some of the ground near the crash site was scorched, with licks of flames visible.
Police official Ajay K.C. said rescue workers were having difficulty reaching the site in a gorge between two hills near the tourist town’s airport.
The crash is Nepal’s deadliest since 1992, the Aviation Safety Network database showed, when a Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A300 crashed into a hillside upon approach to Kathmandu, killing all 167 people on board.
The craft made contact with the airport from Seti Gorge at 10:50am (05:05am GMT), the aviation authority said in a statement. “Then it crashed.”
Those on the twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft included three infants and three children, the Civil Aviation Authority’s statement said.
Passengers included five Indians, four Russians and one Irish, two South Korean, one Australian, one French and one Argentine national.
“Half of the plane is on the hillside,” said Arun Tamu, a local resident, who told Reuters he reached the site minutes after the plane went down.“ “The other half has fallen into the gorge of the Seti river.”
Khum Bahadur Chhetri said he watched from the roof of his house as the flight approached.
“I saw the plane trembling, moving left and right, and then suddenly it nose-dived and it went into the gorge,” Chhetri told Reuters, adding that local residents took two passengers to a hospital.
Pokhara Airport spokesman Anup Joshi said the aircraft crashed as it approached the airport, adding that the “plane cruised at 12,500 feet and was on a normal descent.” The weather on Sunday was clear. The government has set up a panel to investigate the cause of the crash and it is expected to report within 45 days, the finance minister, Bishnu Paudel, told reporters. REUTERS