US-Bangla aircraft crashes in Kathmandu airport. Photo: Nepali Times
Dhaka, Mar 12 (UNB) – At least 50 people, including 25 Bangladeshis, died as an aircraft of US-Bangla Airlines from Dhaka to Kathmandu crashed at Tribhuvan International Airport in the capital of Himalayan country of Nepal on Monday, said officials.
The deceased Bangladeshi nationals are Foysal Ahmed, Eakub Ali, Alifuzzaman, Bilkis Ara, Begum Hurun Nahar Bilquis Banu, Akhtara Begum, Nazia Afrin Chowdhury, Md Rokibul Hasan, Sanzida Haque, Md Hasan Imam, Mohammad Nazrul Islam, Akhi Moni, Meenhaz Bin Nasir, FH Priok, Tamarra Prionmoyee, Md Motiur Rahman, SM Mahmudur Rahman, Tahira Tanvin Shashi Reza, Pias Roy, Umme Salma, Aniruddha Zaman, Md Nuruz Zaman, Md Raiquz Zaman, co-pilot Prithula Rashid and crewmember Khwaja Hussain, according to a post shared by State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam in his Facebook account.
The Bangladeshi injured are Shahreen Ahmed, Almun Nahar Annie, Md Shahin Bepari, Md Rezwanul Haque, Mehedi Hasan, Emrana Kabir Hashi, Md Kabir Hossain, Sheikh Rashed Rubayet, Saiyda Kamrunnahar Shwarna, pilot Abib Sultan and crewmember KHM Shafey, he said.
Of the injured passengers, Rezwanul was taken to OM Hospital while the rest were taken to Kathmandu Medical College.
The pilot was admitted to Norvic International Hospital while the Shafey was yet to be reached, the state minister wrote.
The death toll remained unclear amid the chaos of the crash and the rush of badly injured victims to nearby hospitals. Brig Gen Gokul Bhandari, the Nepal army spokesman, said 50 people had died and the fate of the others was unknown, reports AP.
But a police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media, said at least 38 people had died, 23 had been injured and 10 remained unaccounted for.
Earlier, Md Kamrul Islam, General Manager (GM), Marketing Support and PR of US-Bangla Airlines, confirmed UNB about the accident.
Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (Caab) sent two of its officials to Nepal to assist the Nepal probe body looking into the incident.
The flight was carrying 67 passengers -- 32 from Bangladesh, 33 from Nepal and one each from China and the Maldives, according to airlines sources.
Of them, Foysal is a staff reporter of private television channel Boishaki, confirmed its head of news Ashoke Chowdhury.
Of the 33 Nepalese citizens, 13 are students of Jalalabad Ragib-Rabeya Medical College Hospital in Sylhet.
The 19th batch students of the medical college are Sanjay Poudel, Sanjaya Maharjan, Neega Maharjan, Anjila Shrestha, Purnima Lohani, Shweta Thapa, Meeli Maharjan, Saruna Shrestha, Algina Baral, Charu Baral, Samira Byanjankar, Ashna Shakya and Princy Dhami.
They were going to their homeland on a two-month vacation on completion of their MBBS final examination, Fazlur Rahman, assistant director of Jalalabad Ragib-Rabeya Medical College Hospital told UNB.
The rest nationals of the Himalayan country are Sila Bajgain, Sobindra Singh Bohara, Gyani Kumari Gurung, Shreya Jha, Prasanna Pandey, Krishna Kumar Sahani, Dayaram Tamrakar, Bal Krishna Thapa, Abadhesh Kumar Yadav, Prabin Chitrakar, Sajana Devkota, Dinesh Humagain, Keshav Pandey, Binod Raj Paudyal, Hari Shankar Poudel, AshishRanjit, SanamShakya, Hari Prasad Subedi and Kishore Tripathi and Basanta Bohora.
The Maldivian national is Rizana Abdulla while the Chinese is Zhang Ming.
Nepal’s Tourism Ministry Joint Secretary Suresh Acharya said 17 injured passengers were rescued and sent to different hospitals for treatment, reports Kathmandu Post.
The aircraft reportedly left Dhaka at 12:30pm which was scheduled to reach Kathmandu at 2:15 pm.
Firefighters were at the scene trying to extinguish a fire, BBC reported quoting local news site My Republica.
The plane, a twin-propeller Bombardier Dash 8 flying from Bangladesh, swerved repeatedly before it crashed, landing near the runway.
At least 12 bodies have been recovered, according to an AP journalist who arrived at the scene soon after the crash and saw the US-Bangla Airlines plane broken into several large pieces, with dozens of firefighters and rescue workers clustered around the wreckage.
An airline official said some injured passengers had been taken away by ambulance.
The plane from US-Bangla, a Bangladeshi airline, went off the runway while landing and crashed on the east side of Tribhuvan International Airport's runway, the Kathmandu Post reported.
The flight landed at TIA airport, also known as Kathmandu International Airport, at 14:20 local time (08:35 GMT), according to flight tracking website.
Photos and videos posted on social media showed smoke rising from an airport runway.
Director General of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) Sanjiv Gautam said the plane was out of control when it attempted to land on the runway.
“The aircraft was permitted to land from the Southern tip of the runway flying over Koteshwor but it landed from the Northern side,” Gautam told Kathmandu Post suspecting the aircraft might have sustained some technical glitches.
“We’re yet to ascertain the reason behind the unusual landing,” he added.
According to TIA spokesperson Prem Nath Thakur, the 76-seater Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft caught fire after it careened off the runway during landing and crashed onto a football ground near TIA.
Meanwhile, US-Bangla Airlines has claimed that there were no technical glitches in the aircraft and the pilot is also an experienced one.
It said the conversation between the pilot and the air traffic control tower at Tribhuvan International Airport indicates “some confusion”.
“However, this is a matter of justification and investigation. The probe committee will look into it,” Md Kamrul Islam, General Manager (GM), Marketing Support and PR of US-Bangla Airlines, told UNB.
He said there was no problem in their aircraft and there is no lacking of experience for the pilot either. “He (pilot) flied over 5000 hours with over 1700 hours with this aircraft,” Kamrul Islam said.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam said officials from Bangladesh Mission are already on the spot and hospital.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Mission in Nepal opened a hotline - Md Al Alamul Emam (Consular +9779810100401) and Asit BaranSarker (+9779861467422) for quick communication.
An AP journalist who arrived at the scene soon after the crash saw the US-Bangla Airlines twin-propeller plane broken into several large pieces, with dozens of firefighters and rescue workers clustered around the wreckage in a grassy field near the runway. Hundreds of people stood on a nearby hill, staring down at what remained of the Bombardier Dash 8.
The plane swerved repeatedly as it prepared to land in Kathmandu, said Amanda Summers, an American working in Nepal. The crowded city sits in a valley in the Himalayan foothills.
"It was flying so low I thought it was going to run into the mountains," said Summers, who watched the crash from the terrace of her home office, not far from the airport. "All of a sudden there was a blast and then another blast."
Fire crew put out the flames quickly, perhaps within a minute, she said, though for a time clouds of thick, dark smoke rose into the sky above the city.
The plane had circled the airport twice as it waited for clearance to land, Mohammed Selim, the airline's manager in Kathmandu, told Dhaka-based Somoy TV station by telephone.
Meanwhile, President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and Cabinet members expressed deep shock and sorrow at the loss of lives and injuries in the plane crash.
In separate messages, they prayed for salvation of the departed souls and early recovery of the injured passengers, and conveyed their sympathy to the bereaved families.
US-Bangla Airlines also expressed its shock at the loss of lives in the incident.
In a statement, it said has taken all necessary steps for the treatment of the injured, taking back the injured and bodies of the passengers as soon as possible.
US-Bangla Airlines operates Boeing 737-800 and smaller Bombardier Dash 8 Q-400 planes.
The airline, part of US-Bangla Group, is based in Dhaka, and flies to several domestic and international destinations. The parent company is involved in a number of industries, including real estate, education and agriculture.
Kathmandu's airport has been the site of several deadly crashes. In September 2012, a Sita Air turboprop plane carrying trekkers to Mount Everest hit a bird and crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 19 on board.
The private carrier US-Bangla Airlines spread its wings beyond the Bangladeshi airspace on May 15 in 2016 with its maiden international flight to Kathmandu. It operates Dhaka-Kathmandu flights four times a week.