Forty-nine people died after a Bangladeshi passenger plane crashed near Kathmandu airport on Monday afternoon. The US-Bangla plane, carrying 71 people, crashed after becoming unstable while landing.
“Forty people died at the spot and nine died at two hospitals in Kathmandu,” Nepal Police spokesperson Manoj Neupane told AFP, adding that 22 passengers were undergoing treatment at various hospitals in Kathmandu.
Airline spokesperson Kamrul Islam said 33 of the passengers were Nepali, 32 were Bangladeshi, and one each from China and the Maldives.
The cause of the crash is not yet clear. Soon after the accident on Monday, Tribhuvan International Airport General Manager Rajkumar Chhetri said that the pilot had not followed the air traffic controller’s directions. “When the control tower asked the pilot if there was any problem, the pilot said everything is okay,” according to Chhetri. “However, instead of landing from the north side, the plane went towards north-east and made two rounds.”
Other airport authorities told AFP the plane was “out of control” while landing.
Chief Executive Officer of US-Bangla Airlines Imran Asif, however, blamed Kathmandu’s air traffic control. “Our pilot is an instructor of this Bombardier aircraft,” Asif told reporters. “His flight hours are over 5,000 hours. There was a fumble from the control tower.”
The airport was shut for about three hours after the crash.
Meanwhile, India’s Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj spoke to her Bangladesh counterpart Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali and offered India’s assistance in Kathmandu.