‘Miscommunication’ blamed for deadly Kathmandu plane crash

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    Nepalese rescuers stand near a passenger plane from Bangladesh that crashed at the airport in Kathmandu [AP]

    Kathmandu, Nepal – At least 49 people have been killed when a Bangladeshi plane carrying more than 70 people crashed and burst into flames as it landed in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.  

    Manoj Neupane, a spokesman for Nepali police, told Al Jazeera that at least 40 people died when the US-Bangla Airlines plane crash landed on Monday. Nine others died at the hospital.

    At least 22 passengers were undergoing treatment in various hospitals in the city, he said.

    Raj Kumar Chhetri, general manager at the Tirubhavan International Airport (TIA), told Al Jazeera that the aircraft skidded off the runaway after attempting to land in the “wrong direction against the order of the control room”. 

    “The control room had given permission to land from the southern end. But it landed from the northern side after making few rounds in the sky,” he said.

    In a press briefing, Imran Asif, CEO of US-Bangla Airlines, said the pilot of the aircraft, Abid Sultan, was injured and was undergoing treatment.

    Asif said the airline suspected that the crash was caused by “a miscommunication” between the pilot and the control tower at the airport.

    “There is a video on Youtube, which shows the conversation between the pilot and the control tower. Basing on that, we are making this assumption,” he said.

    Nepal’s Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has called Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to “express sorrow” following the crash, Bishnu Rimal, Oli’s chief political advisor, said. 

    In a post on Twitter, Oli offered his condolences to bereaved families and said his government “will investigate the incident immediately”. 

    The Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft took off from the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, to Kathmandu on Monday morning.

    Images posted on social media following the plane crash showed workers at the airport standing at the runway and grounds, as thick smoke was seen rising in the background.  

    Rescuers were later seen crowding around the plane, which was turned upside-down and badly burned. 

    In Dhaka, Kamrul Hasan, general manager of US-Bangla airline, said there were 33 Nepali nationals onboard the flight.

    At least 32 others were from Bangladesh, one from China and one from the Maldives.

    He said two airline officials were awaiting a flight to Kathmandu to help gather more information about the incident.

    Relatives of some of the passengers gathered in front of US-Bangla Airlines office at Dhaka’s Baridhara district, demanding to know what happened to their family members.

    SM Abul Kalam Azad, brother of a government official who was on-board the plane, was crying outside the airline office.

    Azad told Al Jazeera he does not know whether his sister, Umme Salima, is alive or dead. Salima, a Planning Ministry official left for Nepal for a three-day official visit.

    Meanwhile the embassy of Bangladesh in Kathmandu has opened a hotline for family members and friends of the passengers.

    In 2012, at least 19 people were killed after a small plane flying towards Mount Everest crashed on the outskirts of Kathmandu. 

    During the same year, at least 15 people were also killed when a plane taking tourists to the high-altitude airport near Annapurna crashed. 

    View the original article: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/bangla-plane-crash-lands-kathmandu-airport-casualty-feared-180312090642034.html

    With additional reporting by Roshan Sedhai in Kathmandu and Faisal Mahmud in Dhaka.

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