What you need to know about Nepal’s plane crash

Dramatic video shot on a phone from the ground showed the last moments before the crash of the plane carrying 72 people.

A passenger plane carrying 72 people crashed in the Nepalese city of Pokhara on Sunday, with at least 69 people confirmed dead so far.

Debris from the airliner was strewn across the crash site, including the crushed remains of passenger seats and the plane’s white-coloured fuselage as the search for survivors continued on Monday.

Here is what we know so far:

Where did the plane crash?

  • The ATR 72 aircraft operated by Yeti Airlines was travelling to Pokhara from the capital, Kathmandu, on a scheduled 27-minute flight.
  • It crashed minutes before landing at Pokhara International Airport, inaugurated just two weeks ago.
  • Pokhara, some 200km (125 miles) west of Kathmandu, is a bustling tourist town and gateway to the scenic Annapurna mountain range.
  • A dramatic video shot on a phone from the ground showed the last moments before the plane plunged into a gorge about 1.6km (a mile) from the new airport.
Nepalese rescue workers and civilians gather around the wreckage of a passenger plane that crashed in Pokhara, Nepal
Authorities in Nepal said 68 people have been confirmed dead and the fate of four others remains unknown [Krishna Mani Baral/AP Photo]

Who was on board?

  • The aircraft was carrying 72 people, including four crew members.
  • The people on board included 57 Nepalis, five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans and one person each from Argentina, Ireland, Australia and France.
  • With 69 people confirmed dead, the fate of three others still remains unknown, but local officials do not expect to find any survivors.

Why did it crash?

  • The reason for the crash remains unclear so far.
  • It happened amid mild and non-windy weather.
  • Rescuers and searchers have retrieved both the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the plane.
  • Both devices were in good shape and will be sent for analysis based on the recommendation of the manufacturer, officials said.
  • The data on the recorders are likely to help investigators determine the cause of the crash.
Rescue teams work at the wreckage of a Yeti Airlines ATR72 aircraft after it crashed in Pokhara, Nepal, 15 January 2023
Rescue teams work at the wreckage of a Yeti Airlines ATR 72 aircraft after it crashed in Pokhara, Nepal [Bijaya Neupane/EPA]
  • Speaking to Al Jazeera, former pilot Terry Tozer said the aircraft could have “stalled”.
  • “That’s an aerodynamics thaw when the speed is too low and one of the wings stops flying,” he added. “In theory that should never happen. If they had a sudden engine failure after takeoff, they should have been able to continue on the remaining engine.”
  • The type of plane involved, the ATR 72, has been used by airlines around the world for short regional flights. Introduced in the late 1980s by a French and Italian partnership, the aircraft model has been involved in several deadly accidents over the years.
  • In Taiwan, two accidents involving ATR 72-500 and ATR 72-600 aircraft in 2014 and 2015 led to the planes being grounded for a period.

What has been the reaction?

  • Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal called an emergency cabinet meeting following the crash.
  • “The incident was tragic. The full force of the Nepali army, police has been deployed for rescue,” Dahal said.
  • The government has also formed an investigation panel and announced a day of national mourning on Monday.
  • Meanwhile, South Korea’s foreign ministry said it was still trying to confirm the fate of two South Korean passengers and has sent staff to the scene.
  • Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers told reporters the government was providing consular support to the family of an Australian who was aboard the plane.
  • The crash is Nepal’s deadliest since 1992, when all 167 people aboard a Pakistan International Airlines plane were killed when it plowed into a hill as it tried to land in Kathmandu.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies