Eti Airlines plane crashes in Pokhara, Nepal; At least 68 people died

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KATHMANDU, Nepal — At least 68 people were killed when an Eti Airlines flight with 72 people on board crashed at the country’s new Pokhara airport, Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority said.

The bodies of 68 people have been recovered by rescue teams, said Premnath Thakur, a spokesman for Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport. “We are looking for the remaining four,” he said on Sunday. “The identity of the deceased is still unknown.”

The plane took off from Kathmandu at 10:30 a.m. local time on Sunday and was carrying 68 passengers and four crew members and was en route to Pokhara, 125 miles west of Kathmandu, a 25-minute flight away. The town is known for its tranquil lake at the foot of the forested hills and is popular with tourists.

Eti Airlines spokesperson Sudarsan Bardaula said the plane crashed during landing.

Photographs taken from the crash site show the plane torn apart. Shattered chunks of the plane’s fuselage – its recognizable aircraft colors still visible – lay disintegrated on the floor of a smoke-filled valley surrounded by a massive rescue operation.

According to an airline statement, 53 Nepalis and 15 foreigners were on board, including five from India, four from Russia, two from South Korea, one from Argentina, one from Australia, one from France and one from Ireland. The nationalities of the deceased were not immediately known.

Police, army, fire and airport rescue operations are at the scene of the accident Statement by Eti AirlinesThe downed aircraft has been identified as ATR 72.

Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation announced the formation of a commission to investigate the crash. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said in a statement that two helicopters have been dispatched to the crash site.

ATR is a France-based manufacturer of turboprop aircraft. He tweeted that The accident involved an ATR 72-500 and its experts were “fully engaged” in supporting the accident investigation. “Our first thoughts are with all those affected,” the company tweeted. According to ATR’s website, the manufacturer’s 72-500 model seats 68 passengers and has a range of 888 miles. ATR did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Sunday.

This is Nepal’s second plane crash in the past year and the first since Pokhra airport opened on January 1.

Following his Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal announced that Monday will be observed as a national holiday to mourn the victims.

In May, 22 people, a Tara Air flight that took off from Pokhara’s old airport crashed into the Himalayan foothills, including six foreigners, prompting the government to launch an investigation. The flight headed for the tourist town of Jomsom, which was expected to be about a 20-minute drive away.

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