US-Bangla plane crash in Kathmandu: Around 38 killed, 17 injured; rescue operations underway

At least 38 passengers were killed and 17 injured when a Bangladeshi plane with 67 passengers and four crew on board crashed and burst into flames as it was trying to land at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport on Monday. Officials said they had pulled bodies and injured people from the wreckage.

The US-Bangla Airlines plane was arriving from Dhaka when it crashed into a football field near the airport. Director general of civil aviation authority of Nepal (CAAN) Sanjiv Gautam told The Kathmandu Post that the plane was out of control when it tried to land on the runway.

"The aircraft was permitted to land from the southern side of the runway over Koteshwor but it landed from the northern side," said Gautam, suspecting the aircraft might have sustained some technical glitches. He added that they were yet to ascertain the reason behind the crash. The aircraft had circled the airport twice as it waited for clearance to land, Mohammed Selim, the airline's manager in Kathmandu, told Dhaka-based Somoy TV station over the telephone.

A government spokesman was not able to give numbers but said both dead and injured had been pulled from the aircraft.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli visited TIA to inquire about ongoing rescue operation and offered his condolences and assured an immediate probe. Oli said he was "extremely shocked" by the news of the crash.

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."Police and army are trying to cut apart the plane to rescue others," airport spokesman Prem Nath Thakur said.

 US-Bangla plane crash in Kathmandu: Around 38 killed, 17 injured; rescue operations underway

The US- Bangladesh plane which crashed in Kathmandu on Monday. AP

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

The plane crashed as it was coming into land, sending firefighters scrambling to extinguish the burning wreckage and rescue survivors.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Al Alamun Emam, head of the chancery of Bangladesh Embassy in Kathmandu said, "All we know is that this is a technical issue and we are in touch with rescue workers. All we know is that 17 people have been rescued."

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

The plane was a 17-year-old Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprop, said Swedish-based aircraft flight information service Flightradar24 on its Twitter account. According to TIA general manager Raj Kumar Chhetri, the plane crashed at 2:18 pm. "The control tower had communicated with the pilot of the plane which was supposed to land at Runway 2," he told The Himalayan Times.

It said Kathmandu's airport was closed due to the accident, and inbound flights were either turning back or being diverted elsewhere.

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 private carrier that launched in July 2014 with the motto "Fly Fast Fly Safe", according to its website. The Dhaka-based airline made its first international flight in May 2016 to Kathmandu and has since expanded with routes to South Asia, West Asia and Southeast Asia. In 2015, one of its planes overshot the runway on landing at Saidpur in northwest Bangladesh. There were no reports of injuries.

With inputs from agencies.

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Updated Date: Mar 12, 2018 18:44:04 IST