US-Bangla aircraft crashes on landing at TIA, 49 killed

KATHMANDU: A US-Bangla Airlines aircraft flying from Dhaka to Kathmandu crashed on landing at the Tribhuvan International Airport, killing 49 people. 22 people were rescued from the wrecked aircraft and are receiving treatment.

There were 71 people on board, of which 33 were Nepalis, 32 Bangladeshis, one Chinese and one Maldivian.

Bodies of 31 deceased were recovered at the crash site while 18 were pronounced dead upon arrival at hospitals, according to TIA Spokesperson Prem Nath Thakur.

The 22 injured passengers are undergoing treatment at various hospitals in the capital.

Many fire-fighting engines and ambulances rushed to the accident site immediately as news of the crash broke.

According to General Manager at the TIA, Raj Kumar Chhettri, the plane crashed at 2:18 pm. GM Chhetri added that the plane took a missed approach touching down the fencing area next to the parked planes at the airport. "The accident occurred due to a missed approach," Chettri told THT.

The plane slammed onto the empty field near the airport fire building and caught fire immediately, according to the eyewitnesses.

Air traffic controllers who held tower communication with the Captain said that the flight was initially permitted to land on the runway 02 (from Koteshwor area). “The Captain then asked for Runway 20 (from Pashupatinath area) permission turning his flight to the east from its previous location,” one of the officers shared.

After making rounds over Runway 20 landing location, the flight suddenly tried to make a final approach towards Runway 02, according to him. “Once the tower officials noticed the plane on Runway 02 location, they again communicated with the Captain for the clearance,” he said, adding that the Captain, however, replied he was on the right track.

After hearing the radio communication, a domestic airlines pilot flying from Bharatpur also informed the ATC tower that there was something wrong with the BS 211 flight as the Captain lost the proper landing direction showing an unusual behaviour.

“But, the pilot of Bangladeshi plane repeatedly informed the tower that he was on the right move and proper direction,” the ATC officer said. “Then, the plane suddenly took a wrong direction to the west of the Runway 02 threshold and crashed.”

Meanwhile, the airport which was earlier closed had re-opened at 4:45 pm.

Prior to this, all the passengers were waiting to collect their luggage on cancellation of the domestic and the international flights, according to Shradha Giri, one of the passengers who was present at the airport as the accident happened.

Since the airport is closed all passengers r waiting to collect their luggage it’s been a long day 3 hrs delay and then the crash. May the families have the strength praying for the departed and hoping more survive than wats being reported ?

— shradha (@shradhagb) March 12, 2018

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Defense Minister Ishwar Pokhrel, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, and Ambassador of Bangladesh to Nepal Mashfee Binte Shams have reached the airport. Nepali Congress senior leader Ram Chandra Paudel also reached the airport.

The Prime Minister expressed his condolences to those that have lost their lives in the crash and wished the survivors a speedy recovery.