Nepal plane crash: Yeti Airlines flight with 72 on board comes down near Pokhara airport

At least 16 bodies have been recovered after an aircraft with 72 people on board crashed near Pokhara International Airport in Nepal on Sunday morning.

The Yeti airline twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft with 68 passengers and four crew members departed from Kathmandu and met with an accident while landing, in the country’s worst crash in over three decades.

The passengers, included two infants and 10 foreign nationals, according to airline spokesperson Sudarshan Bartaula. There were five Indians, four Russians, one Irish national, and two South Koreans on board, according to the official.

Kathmandu Post quoted the spokesperson as saying that the aircraft crashed between the old airport and the Pokhara International Airport.

The tourist town of Pokhara is located about 200km northwest of the capital Kathmandu.

Purported videos and images shared on social media show plumes of smoke billowing from the crash site.

“We expect to recover more bodies,” army spokesperson Krishna Bhandari told Reuters. “The plane has broken into pieces.”

The airport has been temporarily shut and a rescue operation is underway.

Prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal urged security personnel, all agencies of the Nepal government and the general public to start an effective rescue.

The prime minister has called for an emergency meeting of the council of ministers.

The plane was reportedly 15 years old. The ATR72 is a widely used turboprop plane manufactured by a joint venture of Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo.

Twenty-two people died in May last year after a small plane operated by Tara airlines crashed in a mountainous area in the country. The twin-engine aircraft was on a scheduled flight from Pokhara.

Nepal has a high record of plane crashes as it is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Mount Everest.

In 2018, a US-Bangla Air crash at the Tribhuvan International Airport killed 51 people on board.

Two years prior to that a Tara airlines Twin Otter plane flying the same route had crashed, killing all 23 aboard.

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