A total of 68 bodies had been recovered after a local passenger plane carrying 72 people crashed in the Pokhara region in central Nepal on Sunday, and the effort was continuing to find four others, officials said.
“We have found the dead bodies of 68 people so far,” said Jagannath Niroula, spokesperson of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).
Ajay KC, police chief of the Kaski district where Pokhara is located, told Xinhua earlier that the bodies were found at the crash site in the Seti River gorge which is over 200 meters deep.
Brig. Gen. Krishna Prasad Bhandari, Nepal Army’s spokesperson, said many of the bodies were beyond recognition and 80 percent of the plane had been gutted in fire.
The rescuers were searching for the remaining bodies, he revealed.
Nepali soldiers and police officers are mobilized in the search and rescue effort.
The ill-fated ATR-72 plane from Yeti Airlines took off from Kathmandu for Pokhara at 10:30 local time and it lost contact with the air traffic control at 10:50 local time, the CAAN said in a statement.
According to the agency, there were 68 passengers and four crew members aboard the flight, among them 15 foreigners, including five Indians, four Russians, two Koreans and one each from Australia, Ireland, Argentina and France.
Prem Nath Thakur, general manager of the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, said the plane had been granted landing clearance before it crashed in the Seti River gorge.
The weather seemed not a factor in the accident, as it was “very good” in Pokhara from early morning, Thakur told a press conference, noting the pilots did not report technical problems either.
Among the passengers aboard the flight, there were three children and three infants, Thakur added.
The Nepali cabinet declared a national mourning on Monday for the victims and decided to form a five-member committee to probe the cause of the accident, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Abdul Khan told Xinhua.
The cabinet also directed airline operators to regularly and mandatorily get their planes checked, the minister said.
This crash isn’t uncommon in Nepal as It has happened many times before , due to the tricky runways and sudden weather changes. in March 2018, when a US-Bangla Airlines plane crashed near Kathmandu, which resulted in 51 people killed and in May 2022, a plane operated by Nepali carrier Tara Air crashed and all 22 people who was in the plane died.
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The Himalayan country also has some of the world’s most remote and tricky runways, surrounded by snow-capped peaks which is very difficult even for professional pilots.