DHAKA – Authorities in Nepal started recovering bodies from the crashed Bangladeshi US Bangla Airlines craft after it met the fatal accident near Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Airport with 71 people onboard, four being crew, officials and reports said from the Nepalese capital, reports BSS.
“We just pulled out dead bodies and injured from the debris,” AFP reported quoting government spokesman Narayan Prasad Duwadi in Kathmandu as television images showed plumes of black smoke rising from the crash site, a football pitch to the east of the runway at Nepal’s only international airport.
A Nepalese civil aviation official earlier said 21 passengers were rescued alive from the craft and were rushed to hospitals with critical wounds while army was called out in aide of fire fighters and police, deployed for the rescue operations.
“There were 67 passengers and 4 crew members” aboard the plane, Kathmandu airport’s spokesman Prem Nath Thakur said.
The authorities shut down the Tribhuvan International Airport immediately after the crash while another plane was seen standing to fly on the tarmac.
Live footage posted on Facebook showed the towering columns of smoke rising behind the runway, where another plane stood waiting on the tarmac. Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 said the crash took place at 2:20 local time (2:50BST).
“We are keeping close contacts with the authority of the Kathmandu airport where the rescue operation is underway,” US-Bangla general manager Kamrul Islam told BSS immediately after the crash.
US Bangla appeared as Bangladesh’s largest private airlines operating in seven international destinations with eight aircraft.
International media reports, meanwhile, said Nepal suffered a number of air disasters in recent years, dealing a blow to its tourist industry while its poor air safety record is blamed largely on inadequate maintenance, inexperienced pilots and substandard management.
The US Bangla crash came two years after a Twin Otter turboprop aircraft slammed into a mountainside in Nepal killing all 23 people on board and two days later, two pilots were killed when a small passenger plane crash-landed in the country’s hilly midwest.