Nepal flight crash: One Irish passenger reported to be on board Nepal flight in which 68 people have died
Authorities in Nepal said 68 people have been confirmed dead after a regional passenger plane with 72 on board, including a reported Irish citizen, crashed in the resort town of Pokhara.
t comes as a Nepalese journalist Rojita Adhikari said this afternoon a government official confirmed to her that none of those on board survived the crash.
“The government told me there is no survivor,” she told RTÉ’s This Week radio programme.
“There were 72 persons on board, 68 passengers and four crew members, and the government said there is no survivor, however, they have found 68 bodies so far.”
Ms Adhikari said an Irish passport holder was one of 15 foreign nationals who were on the flight.
She said 45 bodies have been transferred to the hospital in Pokhara so far, but the recovery effort is slow because the plane crashed into a river, in a gorge.
“It’s difficult to take a body from down [at the] river side up,” she added.
Ms Adhikari there was “clear” weather in Pokhara this morning, and the reason for the crash is still unknown.
She added the Nepalese Government has launched an investigation, the findings of which could take up to three days to publish.
Those on the twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft included two infants and four crew members, said airline spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula. Passengers included five Indians, four Russians and one Irish, two South Korean, one Australian, one French and one Argentine national.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that it is aware of an incident.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs is aware of reports of the involvement of an Irish citizen in an airplane crash in Nepal, and stands ready to provide consular assistance if requested,” a DFA spokesperson said.
The ATR72 is a widely used twin engine turboprop plane manufactured by a joint venture of Airbus (AIR.PA) and Italy’s Leonardo. Yeti Airlines has a fleet of six ATR72-500 planes, according to its website.
Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 reported on Twitter that the Yeti Airlines aircraft was 15 years old.
Yeti describes itself on its website as a leading domestic carrier of Nepal.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has called an emergency cabinet meeting after the plane crash.
Hundreds of rescue workers were scouring the hillside where the Yeti Airlines flight from the capital Kathmandu, went down. The weather was clear, said Jagannath Niroula, spokesman for Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority.
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.
“The plane is burning,” said police official Ajay K.C., adding that rescue workers were having difficulty reaching the site in a gorge between two hills near the tourist town’s airport.
The craft made contact with the airport from Seti Gorge at 10.50am. (05.05 GMT), the aviation authority said in a statement. “Then it crashed.”
“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 its nose dived and it went into the gorge,” Chhetri told Reuters, adding that local residents took two passengers to a hospital.
SERIES OF CRASHES
The crash is Nepal’s deadliest since March 2018, when a US-Bangla Dash 8 turboprop flight from Dhaka crashed on landing in Kathmandu, killing 51 of the 71 people on board, according to Aviation Safety Network.
At least 309 people have died since 2000 in plane or helicopter crashes in Nepal – home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest – where the weather can change suddenly and make for hazardous conditions.
Additional reporting by Reuters.
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