Bangladeshi plane bursts into flames, killing at least 50 passengers
KATHMANDU: A Bangladeshi airliner crashed on Monday after making an unexpected turn in cloudy weather as it came in to land at the airport in Nepal’s capital, killing at least 50 people, officials said.
There were 71 people on board the US-Bangla Airlines plane arriving from Dhaka when it clipped the fence at Katmandu and burst into flames, said Raj Kumar Chettri, the general manager of the hill-ringed airport.
Those aboard included 33 Nepali passengers, with 32 from Bangladesh, one from China and one from the Maldives. nine people were still unaccounted for, he added.
Chettri said that 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.
It was not immediately clear if the pilot had issued a “Mayday” call, or distress signal.
Many of the bodies that lay on the tarmac, covered with cloth, were charred, witnesses said. Thick plumes of smoke could be seen from the aircraft at the Tribhuvan International Airport.
The aircraft that went down on Monday was 17 years old, data from tracking website Flightradar24.com showed. It descended to an airport altitude of 4,400 feet (1,341 m) and then climbed to 6,600 feet (2,012 m) before crashing about two minutes later, the website said.
Bombardier said on Twitter it was saddened by the accident.
“Our thoughts are with those injured, and their families,” it said. “More information to follow.”
There have been a series of accidents at Katmandu in the past.
In March 2014, a flock of birds shattered the windshield of a Malaysia Airlines jet as it landed in Katmandu.
The same month, a rear wheel of an Airbus A320 operated by an Indian budget airline caught fire after landing.
A cockpit of a crashed US-Bangla airplane lies on the crash site at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu on Monday.(Reuters)