Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 28 February 2016





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Looking for bodies in the rubble

Nepal plane crash recovery continues at slow pace:

An operation to retrieve the remaining bodies from a plane crash in a mountainous area of Nepal will continue after bad weather suspended recovery efforts.

The Twin Otter aircraft, operated by Tara Air, crashed killing all 23 people on board, shortly after taking off on a flight from Pokhara to Jomsom. Pokhara is a resort town some 200 km west of the capital Katmandu. Jomsom, a short distance further north, is the starting point for many people trekking in the Himalayas.

Most of those on board were Nepalis.

Nepal's aviation industry has a poor safety record but it is not yet clear what caused the 23 February crash.

The plane was carrying three crew and 20 passengers, one of them Chinese and one Kuwaiti.

According to Sanjiv Gautam, Director General of Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority, the plane's wreckage was found near the village of Dana in Myagdi District.

Army officials said the weather was poor and the terrain was difficult to navigate, which led to the suspension of the recovery effort.

The crash site is 13,000 feet above sea level and about 100km from Pokhara. It is not possible for helicopters to land there.

The flight was meant to take just under 20 minutes but Gautam told the BBC Nepali Service that the aircraft lost contact with the control tower at Pokhara 10 minutes after take-off. Strangely, Tara Air said on its website that "the weather at both origin and destination airports was favourable."

Trekkers’ paradise

Nepal has a limited road network and many areas are accessible only on foot or by air.

Since 1949, the year the first aircraft landed in Nepal, there have been more than 70 crashes involving planes and helicopters, in which more than 700 people have been killed.

Ananda Prasad Pokharel said the Twin Otter turboprop aircraft had been found in the western district of Myagdi and bodies could be seen scattered around it.

“The wreckage of the plane was found in a completely burnt state in Solighopte in Myagdi District,” said Pokharel, Nepal’s Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. The Nepal Army had deployed helicopters and soldiers to search Myagdi.

The plane lost contact with air traffic control eight minutes after it left the western town of Pokhara.

The police chief at Jomsom, Harihari Yogi, said they had reports from local villagers of hearing a loud explosion near the small village of Rupshe.

Nepal, which is still reeling from adevastating earthquake last April, has suffered a number of air disasters in recent years, dealing a blow to its tourist industry.

Most have been attributed to inexperienced pilots, poor management and inadequate maintenance.

The country’s aviation sector has come under fire from international authorities and in 2013 the EU banned all Nepalese airlines from flying there.

Tara Air is a subsidiary of Yeti Airlines, a privately owned domestic carrier founded in 1998, which runs a service to many remote destinations across Nepal.

It saw its last fatal accident in 2010 when a plane chartered by a group of Bhutanese tourists crashed into a mountainside in eastern Nepal.

- Guardian.UK


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