At least 40 dead as flight with 72 onboard crashes on hillside minutes after takeoff

At least 40 dead as flight with 72 onboard crashes on hillside minutes after takeoff
At least 40 people died in a plane crash in Nepal's Pokhara on January 15 (RawsGlobal/Twitter)

KATHMANDU, NEPAL: At least 40 people have died after an ATR 72 aircraft crashed in Pokhara in Nepal on January 15. The plane, operated by Yeti Airlines, took off from Nepal's capital Kathmandu at 10.30 am (local time) and crashed in the Kaski district headquarters shortly after.

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The plane was carrying 68 passengers and four crew members, The Kathmandu Post reported. Following the accident, Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal convened an emergency meeting of the Council of Ministers. The Home Ministry, security officers, and other government agencies are conducting urgent rescue and relief activities, under Prime Minister Dahal's instructions. They are being aided by local residents in the ops. There is a rare possibility of any survivors. 

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Dramatic visuals doing rounds on social media show fire and smoke billowing from the crash site. In one visual, shared by JAM 66 Radio, people can be seen surrounding the crash site along with rescue personnel. In the video, the picturesque surroundings of Pokhara are covered in smoke as onlookers are seen capturing the destruction on their cellphones.

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At the time of writing this report, the hillside where the Yeti Airlines flight, with a call sign 9N-ANC, crashed is being searched by hundreds of rescuers. While it is as yet unknown what caused the crash, Jagannath Niroula, spokesman for Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority, informed reporters that the weather was clear. BNO News shared a video of the plane moments before it crashed.

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News agency Reuters quoted police officer Ajay KC as saying that rescuers were having trouble getting to the scene, located in a ravine close to the airport, as the jet was still burning.  Reuters also quoted a local resident as saying that the last portion of the aircraft has fallen into the gorge. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal informed in an official statement that the plane had made contact with the airport from Seti Gorge at 10.50 am (local time). 

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Since 2000, at least 309 people have perished in helicopter or plane crashes in Nepal, which is home to eight of the world's 14 tallest mountains, including Everest, and where the weather is unpredictable and hazardous, as per the Reuters report.

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