Kathmandu, March 13
The government today said rescue efforts after Monday’s US-Bangla Airlines’ aircraft crash at Tribhuvan International Airport were ‘quick and laudable’.
The US-Bangla Airlines flight BS 211 with 71 passengers and crew members on board had caught fire after crash landing at TIA.
Rescuers had recovered 40 bodies on the spot while nine breathed their last while undergoing treatment yesterday and two succumbed to injuries today, taking the toll to 51. Among the 20 injured, four are said to be in critical condition.
“Rescue response to the Monday’s crash was laudable. The rescue team of TIA, security agencies, ambulance services and fire extinguishers had reached the accident spot within two minutes of the accident,” claimed Sanjiv Gautam, director general of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal — the aviation sector regulator of Nepal.
Addressing a press meet today, Gautam, however, said rescue efforts were slightly affected, as fire from the aircraft spread to nearby bushes and also due to the presence of a number of onlookers near the crash spot.
While US-Bangla Airlines has been claiming that wrong signals from the air traffic control room at TIA caused the crash, Gautam denied the allegation. He said the actual cause of the crash would be ascertained only after the high-level probe committee formed by the government submitted its report.
“A three-minute conversation between the pilot and the air traffic controller before the landing in Kathmandu indicated that the ATC passed on a wrong signal to the pilot,” Reuters quoted Imran Asif, chief executive of US-Bangla Airlines, as saying.
However, CAAN said the air traffic control unit at TIA had initially permitted the ill-fated US-Bangla Airlines aircraft to land on Runway 02 (from Koteshwor side) and the aircraft was later again permitted to land on Runway 20 (from Pashupati side) after the captain sought the latter runway for landing. However, the aircraft suddenly tried to make a final approach towards Runway 02.
Meanwhile, CAAN and Central Investigation Bureau have jointly begun a probe on the leaked conversation between the ATC unit at TIA and the pilot. CAAN has already sent six employees at the ATC unit in TIA ‘off duty’ following the leaking of conversation.
A version of this article appears in print on March 14, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.