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US-Bangla airliner with 71 on board crashes at Nepal's Kathmandu airport, 17 rescued

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 12, Mar 2018, 15:46 pm IST | UPDATED: 12, Mar 2018, 16:18 pm IST

US-Bangla airliner with 71 on board crashes at Nepal's Kathmandu airport, 17 rescued Kathmandu: A Bangladeshi aircraft carrying 67 passengers and four crew crashed on Monday while coming in to land at the airport in the Nepali capital, Kathmandu, an airport official said, adding that 17 people on board had been rescued.

The state of the other people on the flight from the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, operated by US-Bangla Airlines, was not clear, airport spokesman Birendra Prasad Shrestha said.

“There were 67 passengers and 4 crew members” aboard the plane, said airport spokesman Prem Nath Thakur.

The aircraft S2-AGU careened off the runway during landing at 2:20 pm and crashed onto the football ground near TIA, Kathmandu Post newspaper quoted Thakur as saying.

“So far 20 injured have been taken to the hospital. Police and army are trying to cut apart the plane to rescue others,” he added.

Plumes of black smoke could be seen rising from the football pitch where the plane crashed, to the east of the runway at Nepal's only international airport, in the capital Kathmandu.

"There were 67 passengers and 4 crew members" aboard the plane, said airport spokesman Prem Nath Thakur.

"So far 20 injured have been taken to the hospital. Police and army are trying to cut apart the plane to rescue others," he added.

Live footage posted on Facebook showed the towering columns of smoke rising behind the runway, where another plane stood waiting on the tarmac.

The Nepal Army has been pressed into rescue operations and the airport has been closed.

Amanda Summers, an American who works in Nepal, watched the crash happen from the terrace of her home office.

"It was flying so low I thought it was going to run into the mountains," she said. She said it was unclear if it had reached the runway when it landed. "All of a sudden there was a blast and then another blast," she said.

Fire crews put out the flames very quickly, perhaps within a minute, she said, though clouds of thick, dark smoke rose into the sky above Kathmandu, the capital of the Himalayan nation.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of airport policy, said the flight was arriving from Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital. He said the plane appeared to have caught fire just before it landed and skidded to a stop in a field beside the runway.

An employee who answered the phone at the US-Bangla offices in Dhaka said no one was available to talk.

"I have no other details," said the employee, who refused to give his name. "But a bad incident has happened."

Emergency vehicles appeared to be heading into the smoke as people watched from a distance or filmed on their mobile phones.

Nepal has suffered a number of air disasters in recent years, dealing a blow to its tourist industry.

Its poor air safety record has been blamed largely on inadequate maintenance, inexperienced pilots, and substandard management.

In early 2016, a Twin Otter turboprop aircraft slammed into a mountainside in Nepal killing all 23 people on board. Two days later, two pilots were killed when a small passenger plane crash-landed in the country's hilly midwest.

US-Bangla Airlines is a unit of the US-Bangla Group, a U.S. Bangladeshi joint venture company. The Bangladeshi carrier launched operations in July 2014 and operates Bombardier Inc and Boeing aircraft.

Casualties are feared, and efforts are on to douse the burning plane. Emergency respondents and ambulances rushed to the football field where the plane crashed, Himalayan Times quoted airport sources are saying.

According to airport officials, 17 passengers have been rescued.

Those who were pulled out have been rushed to the hospital while the fire-fighters are trying to rescue remaining passengers.

The plane is reported to be a 78-seater twin turbo prop aircraft.

The plane “became unstable” while descending and crashed, another airport official said.
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