At least 68 people were killed when a plane crashed near the city of Pokhara in central Nepal on Sunday, government officials said. CNN reported it was the country’s deadliest plane crash in more than 30 years. His 72 people, four crew members, and 68 passengers were on board when the ATR-72 plane operated by Nepal’s Yeti Airways crashed, said Yeti spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula. According to Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority, 37 were men, 25 were women, 3 were children and 3 were infants. First responders were still working to locate the last eight passengers, but they were “losing hope” of finding them alive, Fanindra Mani Pokharel, the joint secretary of Nepal’s Ministry of Home Affairs, told CNN. A local official had previously expressed hope that some survivors might be found. Among the dead is at least one infant, according to Nepal’s civil aviation authority.
Sunday’s incident was the third-deadliest crash in the Himalayan nation’s history, according to data from the Aviation Safety Network. The only incidents in which more people were killed took place in July and September 1992. Those crashes involved aircraft run by Thai Airways and Pakistan International Airlines and left 113 and 167 people dead, respectively. The civil aviation authority said that 53 of the passengers and all four crew members were Nepali. Fifteen foreign nationals were on the plane as well: five were Indian, four were Russian and two were Korean. The rest were individual citizens of Australia, Argentina, France and Ireland. The aircraft had been flying from the capital of Kathmandu to Pokhara, the country’s second-most populous city, the country’s state media Rising Nepal reported. Pokahara is located some 129 kilometers (80 miles) west of Kathmandu.
The plane was last in contact with Pokhara airport at about 10:50 a.m. local time, about 18 minutes after takeoff. It then went down in the nearby Seti River Gorge. First responders from the Nepal Army and various police departments have been deployed to the crash site and are carrying out a rescue operation, the civil aviation authorities said in a statement. Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said he was “deeply saddened by the sad and tragic accident.” “I sincerely appeal to the security personnel, all agencies of the Nepal government, and the general public to start an effective rescue,” Dahal said on Twitter. Nepal’s Yeti Airlines canceled all scheduled flights on Monday, January 16, out of grief for the victims of the crash. Himalayan country Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest, has seen a record number of plane crashes. Weather can change quickly, and runways are typically located in mountainous areas that are difficult to access.
Last May, a Tara aircraft carrying 22 people crashed in the Himalayas at an altitude of about 14,500 feet. According to the Aviation Safety Network database, this was his 19th aircraft crash in the decade and his 10th fatality in the same period. The aircraft involved in Sunday’s crash was an ATR 72-500, a twin-propeller turbojet commonly used by low-cost airlines in the Asia-Pacific region. Aircraft from ATR, a joint partnership between European airlines Airbus and Leonardo, tend to be well received. However, they have already been involved in an accident. In July 2014 and February 2015, two of his ATR 72s for the now-defunct Taiwanese airline Transasia were involved in fatal crashes. Second, Taiwanese authorities have urged all ATR 72s registered on the island to be temporarily grounded. In total, various models of the ATR 72 were involved in 11 fatal crashes before Sunday’s crash in Nepal, according to the Aviation Safety Network.