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Published On: Wed, Mar 14th, 2018

US-Bangla plane crash worst air disaster in Nepal in nearly three decades

nsnbc : The US-Bangla airlines Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft with 71 passengers and crew on board crashed and burst into flames while landing at Katmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport on Monday. 49 were killed in the crash while at least another 20 were injured in the worst aviation disaster Nepal has seen in nearly three decades.

US-Bangla crash, Nepal, Mar 2018Local sources at the airport reported that the US-Bangla flight BS-211 from Dhaka swerved repeatedly as it descended towards Tribhuvan International Airport. The plane then reportedly crashed during a second attempt to land after an unexpected turn in cloudy weather.

The Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft came down east of the runway and careened into a football field. Rescue teams there had to cut apart the mangled and burned wreckage of the upturned plane to pull people out.

Police spokesman Manoj Neupane told reporters at the scene that “Forty people died at the spot and nine died at two hospitals in Kathmandu,” while “another 22 were being treated in hospital, some in a critical condition. The dead included a newly married Bangladeshi couple on their honeymoon”.

The airport administration stated that the plane was “out of control” as it came in to land. Authorities also reported at a news conference hat the pilot descended from s route opposite  to the one assigned by air traffic controllers. It is currently too early to determine whether this reported deviation was caused by pilot error or whether technical problems caused the aircrew to attempt an alternate approach.

The twin-engine Bombardier Dash 8 turboprop airliner was carrying 67 passengers and four crew members, said airport spokesman Prem Nath Thakur. The two pilots and two cabin crew were Bangladeshi nationals. The passengers included 33 from Nepal, 32 from Bangladesh, and one each from China and the Maldives.

US-Bangla condolences, Mar 13, 2018, NepalHuge plumes of smoke were seen over the airport after the plane crashed at 2.40 pm local time and caught fire. Basanta Bohora, one of the survivors, told Kathmandu Post at Norvic Hospital “All of a sudden the plane shook violently and there was a loud bang,” . “I was seated near a window and was able to break out of the window.” The statement could suggest a catastrophic technical issue.

Officials said the air traffic controllers repeatedly asked the pilot why he had changed the alignment and route assigned to him for approaching the airport but there was no response. The conversation between the air traffic controllers and the pilot, which was made public, suggested the pilot ignored instructions from the ground. It is at this point uncertain whether the air crew issued a Pan Pan or a Mayday Mayday call, and if so, whether that call came through.

Hotline for family members and loved ones of the victims, not for journalists.

Hotline for family members and loved ones of the victims, not for journalists.

Raj Kumar Chettri, general manager of the airport said at  a news conference that the aircraft was permitted to land from the southern side of the runway but it changed direction and attempted to land from northern side. He said “This was main reason behind the accident. … In our preliminary findings, the aircraft might have sustained some technical glitches but we are yet to ascertain the reason behind the unusual landing.” The bombardier aircraft was 17 years old.

Flights to Tribhuvan International Airport were diverted after it was closed for more than two hours following the crash. Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli telephoned his Bangladesh counterpart and expressed sorrow at the loss of lives in the crash. “Extremely shocked by unfortunate crash of US-Bangla aircraft carrying 67 passengers and 4 crew members. Express deep sorrow on loss of lives and (condolences) to bereaved families and also wish for early recovery of injured persons. Government will investigate the incident immediately,” he tweeted.

US-Bangla Airlines is owned by US-Bangla Group, a joint venture company with offices in Dhaka, New York, India and other Asian hubs. It has been operating since 2014 out of its home airport in Bangladesh and flies to several domestic and international destinations. The parent company is involved in a number of industries, including real estate, education and agriculture. US-Bangla’s, on its website, conveyed its heartfelt condolence and established a hotline for families and loved ones to call.

CH/L – nsnbc 14.03.2018

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