A national day of mourning was declared on Monday. Sadly, hope of finding survivors after a plane crash in Nepal with 72 people on board is now “zero”, authorities say. Nepalese rescuers, however, continued to search for bodies on Monday in the jagged carcass of the aircraft which crashed at the bottom of a 300-meter ravine, located between the old airport of Pokhara built in 1958 and the new international terminal opened January 1, gateway for trekkers from around the world and pilgrims.
“We have found 68 bodies so far. We are looking for four more bodies (…). We pray for a miracle to happen. But, the hope of finding someone alive is nil,” said Tek Bahadur KC, district chief of Taksi where the plane crashed on Sunday. The Yeti Airlines twin-engine ATR 72 from the capital Kathmandu with 72 people on board – 68 passengers and the four crew members – crashed around 11 a.m. on Sunday (7:15 a.m. French time) while was approaching the local airport in Pokhara.
Deadliest in thirty years
The country observed Monday a day of national mourning over this air accident, the deadliest in Nepal since 1992. The cause of the accident was not yet known but a video broadcast on social networks – verified by a partner of the ‘AFP – Shows the twin-engine vehicle veering sharply to the left on approach to Pokhara airport, hinting at a loud explosion.
The soldiers used ropes to bring the bodies up from the bottom of the ravine until late at night from Sunday to Monday before interrupting the search due to the fog. According to Sudarshan Bartaula, spokesman for Yeti Airlines, 15 foreigners were on board the plane: five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans as well as four passengers from Argentina, Australia, France and the United States respectively. ‘Ireland. The others were Nepalese.
A “very intense” fire
“Incredibly sad news from Nepal of a plane that crashed with many passengers on board,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Monday. ATR, the aircraft’s manufacturer, said in a statement that it was an ATR 72-500, assuring that its specialists were “fully committed to supporting both the investigation and the customer” Yeti Airlines .
“I was walking when I heard a loud explosion, like a bomb had gone off,” said Arun Tamu, a witness to the scene, who posted live video of the burning wreckage on social media. “A few of us rushed to see if we could save anyone. I saw that at least two women were breathing. The fire was getting very intense and it was difficult for us to get any closer,” the 44-year-old former soldier continued.
Harsh flying conditions
Nepalese civil aviation, essential for supplying the remote regions of the country and transporting hikers and mountaineers there, has experienced a real boom in recent years. The European Union has banned all Nepalese carriers from accessing its airspace for security reasons.
This country has some of the most isolated tracks in the world, flanked by soaring peaks, the approach to which poses a challenge even for seasoned pilots. The weather also changes rapidly in the mountains, creating even more challenging flying conditions.