KATHMANDU: Bodies of victims have been recovered from the wreckage as a US-Bangla Airlines plane carrying 67 passengers crash landed after catching fire at Nepal's international airport here today, officials said.
"We just pulled out dead bodies and injured from the debris," government spokesman Narayan Prasad Duwadi told AFP. Another official told AFP that so far 20 injured had been taken to hospital.
It wasn't clear how many have survived, but clouds of thick, dark smoke could be seen rising above the hilltop airport, which was immediately shut down.
The aircraft took off from Dhaka and landed at the airport at 2:20 PM (local time).
6:30 PM: Moments after the plane received permission to land, the pilot said he wanted to go in a northern direction. Asked by the control tower if there was a problem, he replied in the negative.
The plane was then seen making two rounds in a northeast direction, Chettri said. Traffic controllers again asked the pilot if things were OK, and he replied, “Yes”.
The tower then told the pilot his alignment was not correct, but there was no reply, Chettri added.
“The plane should have come from the right direction,” Chettri said, adding that it hit the airport fence, touched the ground and then caught fire. - Reuters reported.
6:30 PM: Army confirms having retrieved 50 dead bodies from the crash site.
6:20 PM: According to a local resident, the plane was flying very low, just enough to be above the control tower, reported IANS.
6:15 PM: The authorities are yet to confirm the reason behind the unusual landing of the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400.
6:07 PM: "The chances of rescuing anyone (else) alive is slim now because the plane was badly burned," said Army spokesman Gokul Bhandaree.
6:04 PM: Nepal's aviation is often criticised for its poor air safety record - largely because of inadequate maintenance, inexperienced pilots and substandard management.
6:00 PM: The airport has been reopened, after being closed temporarily for the rescue operations.
5:58 PM: "There might be technical problems on the aircraft. But it has to be probed before making a final statement," Mahbubur Rahman of Bangladesh's civil aviation ministry told AFP.
5:55 PM: Seven of the victims had survived the impact but later died of their injuries, Nepal Army spokesman Gokul Bhandaree said.
5:50 PM: Rescuers had to cut apart the mangled and burned wreckage of the aircraft to pull people out.
5:45 PM: Bangladesh embassy in Kathmandu has opened a hotline for the relatives of the passengers.
5:43 PM: Bangladesh Planning Ministry official Umme Salima, who left for a three-day official trip to Nepal, was among the passengers of the flight. It is not known whether Salima has survived the disaster.
5:40 PM: Relatives of some of the passengers were seen in front of US-Bangla Airlines office at Dhaka’s Baridhara district, demanding to know what happened to their family members, Al Jazeera reported.
Nepal: A plane crashed at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Airport has been closed for operations. pic.twitter.com/U7iCHKo4ej— ANI (@ANI) March 12, 2018
5:38 PM: According to reports, 16 employees of various travel agencies from Nepal who had gone to Bangladesh for a training programme were among the passengers of the ill-fated plane.
5:35 PM: “All of a sudden the plane shook violently and there was a loud bang afterwards. I was seated near the window and was able to break out of the window,” a survivor told Kathmandu Post at hospital.
5:30 PM: The 78-seater passenger aircraft was 17 years old, tracking website Flightradar24.com confirmed.
5:28 PM: The aircraft descended to an airport altitude of 4,400 feet and then ascended up to 6,600 feet before crashing about two minutes later, a Reuters report said.
5:26 PM: According to Flightradar24, the crashed Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, was described by the company as "the world's most modern turboprop."
5:25 PM: A US-Bangla Airlines spokesperson confirmed the flight was carrying 67 passengers: 32 from Bangladesh, 33 from Nepal and one each from China and the Maldives.
5:25 PM: Authorities said there were four crewmembers on board, but did not provide their nationalities.
5:15 PM: "Thirty-one people died at the spot and nine died at two hospitals in Kathmandu," police spokesman Manoj Neupane told AFP.
5:12 PM: "The aircraft was permitted to land from the Southern side of the runway over Koteshwor but it landed from the Northern side," Director General of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) Sanjiv Gautam was quoted as saying by the Kathmandu Post.
5:09 PM: According to official explanation, the plane approached the runway from the wrong direction.
4:34 PM: The rescued passengers have been taken to Kathmandu Medical College and Teaching Hospital in Sinamangal.
4:32 PM: Tribhuvan International Airport General Manager Raj Kumar Chhetri says over 50 people are feared dead.
4:30 PM: According to the Center for Aviation,US-Bangla Airlines began operations in 2014, and its route between Dhaka and Kathmandu was its first international one.
4:26 PM: A police official told AP that at least 38 people were killed and 23 injured in the disaster.
4:20 PM: 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.
4:18 PM: Several planes are circling in the sky above the airport as it has been closed for rescue operations.
4:17 PM: An aviation official said the plane lost control as it attempted to land, reported express.co.uk
4:12 PM: 25 injured passengers have been rescued & sent to different hospitals for treatment. There were 37 males, 27 females & 2 child onboard the aircraft, airlive.net reported.
4:10 PM: Nepal Prime Minister and Home Minister have arrived at the airport to coordinate the rescue mission.
4:06 PM: "I can't say exactly how many have been rescued," Mohammed Selim, the airline's manager in Kathmandu, told Dhaka-based Somoy TV station by phone.
4:06 PM: An airline official said some injured passengers had been taken away by ambulance.
4:05 PM: The twin-propeller plane, a Bombardier Dash 8, can carry about 70 passengers, though it was not immediately clear how many people were on board.
4:03 PM: Kathmandu Airport officials said at least 12 bodies have been recovered.
Nepal: A US Bangla Airlines plane carrying 67 passengers on board crashed at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Airport has been closed for all operations. Rescue operation underway. pic.twitter.com/4odnceud94— ANI (@ANI) March 12, 2018
3:50 PM: According to an eye-witness, the fire crews put out the flames very quickly, perhaps within a minute.
3:44 PM: The airline, part of US-Bangla Group, is based in Dhaka and flies to several domestic and international destinations.
3:43 PM: An AP journalist saw the US-Bangla Airlines plane broken into several pieces, with dozens of firefighters and rescue workers clustered around the wreckage.
3:40 PM: "It was flying so low I thought it was going to run into the mountains," said an eye-witness. 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."
3:35 PM: The plane caught fire after it careened off the runway during landing and crashed onto a football ground near the airport, the TIA spokesperson Prem Nath Thakur was quoted as saying by the Kathmandu Post.
3:32 PM: An official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of airport policy said the plane appeared to have caught fire just before it landed and skidded to a stop in a field beside the runway.
3:30 PM: The aircraft took off from Dhaka and landed at the airport at 2:20 PM (local time). All the flights to and from TIA have been halted after the crash.