At least 40 people have died in Nepal’s worst plane crash in five years

Kathmandu, Jan. 15 (Reuters) – At least 40 people were killed on Sunday when a domestic plane crashed in Nepal’s Pokhara, a Nepal Civil Aviation Authority official said.

Hundreds of rescue workers continue to search the mountainside where the domestic airline Eti Airlines plane went down after taking off from the capital Kathmandu.

Nepal Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Jaganath Nirola said rescue operations are underway. “The weather was clear.”

Local television showed thick black smoke billowing from the crash site as rescue workers and people gathered around the wreckage.

It was Nepal’s worst accident since March 2018, when a US-Bangla Dash 8 turboprop plane from Dhaka crashed on landing in Kathmandu, killing 51 of the 71 people on board, the Aviation Safety Network said.

Eti’s twin-engine ATR 72 flight on Sunday had 72 people on board, including two infants and four crew members, airline spokesman Sudarshan Bardaula said.

A Nepal airport official said there were five Indians, four Russians, one Irish, two South Koreans, one Australian, one French and one Argentine on the flight.

According to FlightRadar24, a flight tracking website, the plane is 15 years old.

The ATR72 is a widely used twin-engine turboprop aircraft produced by a joint venture between Airbus and Leonardo of Italy. Eti Airlines has six ATR72-500 aircraft, according to its website.

Air crashes are not uncommon in Nepal, home to 8 of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest, as the weather can change suddenly and create dangerous conditions.

Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has called an emergency cabinet meeting after the plane crash, a government statement said.

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Report by Gopal Sharma; Additional reporting by Jamie Freed; Written by Devajyot Ghoshal; Editing: William Mallard

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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