Monday, Nepalese rescue workers combed a debris-strewn canyon for more victims among the mangled wreckage of a plane carrying 72 passengers. According to officials, the likelihood of any surviving is now “nil.”
The cause was not immediately known, but a social media video, which was authenticated by AFP partner ESN, showed the twin-propeller aircraft abruptly and harshly turning to the left as it approached the Pokhara airport. Then, a loud explosion occurred.
Monday was celebrated as a day of mourning for the deceased in Nepal, which has a terrible aviation safety record.
This could be the final minutes before the #YetiAirlines airplane carrying 72 passengers crashed near Pokhara International Airport in #Nepal. This may be one of the most catastrophic jet disasters in recent memory. Several dreaded death. Prayers for everyone
Nepal Media is the video source. pic.twitter.com/xPH6rdvDYP
— Tamal Saha (@Tamal0401) 15 January 2023
Late during the night, soldiers used ropes and stretchers to pull victims from the 300-meter-deep (1,100-foot-deep) gorge; recovery attempts resumed on Monday.
“We have so far collected 68 bodies. We are looking for four additional bodies. We should continue till the bodies are recovered, said a top local official to AFP, Tek Bahadur KC.
“We fervently wish for a miracle. “There is no hope of finding anyone alive,” he claimed.
The crash site was littered with debris from the airliner, including the twisted remains of passenger seats and the white fuselage.
After the incident, rescue workers hurried to the scene and attempted to extinguish the roaring fires that were spewing thick black smoke into the air.
Yeti spokesperson Sudarshan Bartaula told AFP that there were 15 foreigners on board, including five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans, and one passenger each from Argentina, Australia, France, and Ireland.
The remainder were Nepali.
“Incredibly sad news out of Nepal of a plane crash with a large number of passengers on board,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Monday, adding that his government was seeking information on the Australian on board.
Sunday just before 11:00 a.m., an ATR 72 en route from Kathmandu crashed into the gorge between Pokhara’s brand-new international airport and the old domestic airport.
“I was walking when I heard what sounded like a bomb going off,” said Arun Tamu, a 44-year-old witness who was approximately 500 meters away and live-streamed video of the burning debris on social media.
“A couple of us raced to see whether anyone might be rescued. I witnessed at least two women breathing. The increasing intensity of the fire made it difficult for us to advance,” the former soldier told AFP.
It was unknown whether anyone on the ground had been wounded.
ATR, the plane’s manufacturer based in France, stated in a statement released on Sunday, “Our first thoughts are with everyone affected by this.”
ATR professionals are actively supporting both the inquiry and the client.
In recent years, Nepal’s air industry has flourished, transporting products and people between inaccessible regions and transporting foreign mountain climbers.
Due to inadequate training and upkeep, the industry has been plagued by a lack of safety. Due to safety concerns, the European Union has banned all Nepalese airlines from its airspace.
Nepal also possesses some of the world’s most inaccessible and difficult runways, with approaches that provide a challenge to even the most skilled pilots.
The weather is also notoriously unpredictable and difficult to predict, especially in the Alps, where dense fog might suddenly cover the view of the entire mountain range.
In 1992, Nepal’s deadliest aviation catastrophe occurred when a Pakistan International Airlines plane carrying 167 people crashed as it approached Kathmandu.
According to Garrin Lambley © Agence France-Presse