It was a black Sunday for the aviation of Nepal. Approaching the town of Pokhara, a plane of Nepal’s Yeti Airlines, which had taken off from Kathmandu, crashed into a gorge not far from a residential area and burst into flames. All 72 occupants – 68 passengers and four crew members – were most likely killed. Four occupants are still missing, but the chances of finding them alive are nil, an official said.
The cause of the accident is still unclear, it is hoped that the analysis of the black box will shed light on the matter. The flight data recorder was found at the crash site. The ATR 72 twin-engine turboprop aircraft was around 15 years old.
Pokhara’s new international airport, the destination of the flight, had only been opened on New Year’s Day. International airlines showed interest in the new destination, according to Nepalese media reports, but have not yet flown to the new airport. Pokhara, located about 150 kilometers west of Kathmandu, is Nepal’s second largest city and a popular tourist destination – especially as the starting point of many trekking tours towards the eight-thousanders Annapurna, Dhaulagiri and Manaslu.
The crash in Pokhara was the most serious to date involving domestic flights in Nepal. The worst air accident in the Himalayan state occurred in 1992. At that time, a Pakistani airliner crashed on the side of a mountain near Kathmandu. All 167 passengers were killed.