KATHMANDU/DHAKA: A Bangladeshi passenger aircraft crashed and burst into flames on Monday while landing at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) here, killing at least 50 people, in Nepal’s worst aviation disaster in more than 25 years.
The Dhaka to Kathmandu US-Bangla Airlines flight, with 67 passengers and four crew members on board, caught fire after it careened off the runway and ploughed into a football ground near the airport, TIA spokesperson Prem Nath Thakur said.
Nepal army spokesman Brigadier General Gokul Bhandari said 50 people had died in the crash.
There were 33 Nepalese nationals on board flight UBG 211, a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400. Others include 32 Bangladeshis, one Chinese and one Maldivian. Bombardier is a twin-engine, medium-range and turboprop aircraft.
“We are carrying out rescue work. We are collecting details,” TIA General Manager Raj Kumar Chhetri said.
The black box of the aircraft was recovered from the spot, Chhetri said.
The condition of over two dozen people who were admitted to the hospital in Kathmandu is said to be serious.
According to SSP Bishwaraj Pokharel, spokesperson at Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Range Office, 49 were confirmed dead in the crash.
Plumes of black smoke could be seen rising from the football ground where the plane crashed. Several bodies that lay on the tarmac, covered with yellow cloth, were charred.
The aircraft took off from Dhaka and landed at the airport at 2:20 pm (local time). “The plane shoot off the runway while it was about to crash into the hanger and immediately caught fire,” an airport official was quoted as saying by the Himalayan Times. The officials, however, have said a technical glitch could be the cause of the accident.