On Monday, US-Bangla Airlines flight BS211, carrying 67 passengers and four crew, crashed upon arrival in Kathmandu, Nepal according to CNN. The accident occurred after the plane had circled Tribhuvan International Airport twice, waiting for permission to land.
As the plane approached the landing strip, it again asked if it was clear, to which the controller responded in a distressed tone “I say again, turn!” It is reported that 33 of the passengers were Nepalis, 32 were Bangladeshi, one was from the Maldives and one was from China.
The plane hit the fence on its descent, veered off the runway and broke into three large parts before catching fire. This is the third deadliest passenger plane crash in three months after the world had a record breaking zero deaths by passenger plane crashes in 2017.
Those retrieved from the crash were taken to Kathmandu Medical College, the closest medical facilities to the airport. Officials at the Kathmandu hospital said they were treating 16 survivors. 22 total were injured and 49 were reported dead. A medical student by the name of Keyal commented of the incident, “It was just terrible.” The conversation held between the control tower and the BS211 pilot minutes before the accident appears to show confusion on which end of the airport the plane was clear to land on. The pilot had permission to land from the southern side of the runway, over Koteshwor, but instead approached from the north.
Once it became evident that the plane was in danger on its landing the control tower ordered a fire department onto the runway.
Subsequently they were able to swiftly put out the fire and set about saving those injured and trapped. One witness estimates the fire was out in under a minute.
There is still debate as to which end committed the error. US-Bangla airlines chief executive Imran Asif claimed, “There was a fumble from the control tower,” citing their pilot’s extensive experience, having logged over 5,000 hours of flight and served as an instructor of the Bombardier aircraft.
As the plane slowly moved toward destruction, many witnesses were able to catch sight of the catastrophe. An American living and working in Nepal, Amanda Summers, told CNBC officials about her view of the plane crash: ”It was flying so low I thought it was going to run into the mountains. All of a sudden there was a blast and then another blast.”
A line of employees gathered to see what remained of the 17-year-old Bombardier Dash Q-00. While the plane’s age may seem high for transportation in the sky, a CNN article written by A. Pawlowski reports that the average age of an airline’s fleet is 14 years old and that “there’s no reason why a plane can’t stay safe for 25 to 30 years.”
Tribhuvan International Airport has had a poor track record, averaging nearly one fatal accident every year since 1996. This is the deadliest crash in Nepal since a Pakistan International Airlines plane crashed in 1992 killing 167 on board.