A chilling video has emerged that captures the final moments before a 72-seater passenger aircraft crashed on the runway at Pokhara International Airport in Nepal. The video shows the plane flying at a low height before descending at high speed and crashing almost on the roof of nearby buildings.
According to multiple reports, a plane carrying about 72 people from Nepal's capital Kathmandu crashed in Pokhara on Sunday morning, killing dozens of people. So far, 65 bodies have been pulled from the rubble, according to a Nepal Army spokeswoman. Among the dead, five are believed to be Indians, according to reports.
Videos have emerged on social media from the purported crashed site where the aircraft was seen up in flames with thick black smoke bellowing out of it. One of the videos captures the final moments the ATR aircraft flying over nearby houses.
The plane is seen descending at high speed over nearby houses as people are heard shouting. The plane then moves out of the frame and a thunderous noise is heard as it crashes on the runway of the Pokhara International Airport.
Several other videos from the crash site have emerged that show locals and rescue teams surrounding the aircraft. Also, charred bodies can be seen in some of the videos.
"There are 68 passengers on board and four crew members... Rescue is underway, we don't know right now if there are survivors," Sudarshan Bartaula, spokesperson of Yeti Airlines, was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
The Yeti Airlines twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft was flying from Kathmandu, Nepal to Pokhra. According to the airport authority, 53 Nepalis, 5 Indians, 4 Russians, 1 Irish, 2 Koreans, 1 Argentinian, and a French national were on board, according to news agency ANI.
A roaring fire at the wreckage has made rescue efforts challenging, Nepali journalist Dilip Thapa told NDTV. An emergency cabinet meeting has been convened by Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, often known as "Prachanda."
Rescue Operation Difficult
The plane crashed into a river gorge on the side of the Seti River as it was about to land at the Pokhara airport. The fact that the incident occurred about 20 minutes after takeoff suggests that the plane may have been in descent. The flight takes 25 minutes to travel between the two cities.
"We don't know right now if there are survivors," the airline's spokesperson Sudarshan Bartaula told news agency AFP.
A local official was quoted as stating that rescuers were attempting to put out the flames started by the airliner as it fell.
More casualties are expected even as the rescue operation is still going on. "We expect to recover more bodies ... The plane has broken into pieces," a local official told Reuters.
Concerns about safety and inadequate personnel training have plagued Nepal's airline industry. After the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) raised safety concerns, the European Union placed Nepal on the flight safety blacklist in 2013, ordering a complete ban on all flights from the Himalayan nation into its airspace.
Horrifying aviation catastrophes in Nepal have previously claimed hundreds of lives. All 22 occupants of a Tara Air flight from Nepal, including 16 Nepalis, 4 Indians, and 2 Germans, perished in the disaster in May 2022.
A US-Bangla Airlines aircraft crash-landed close to Kathmandu's international airport in March 2018, killing 51 passengers.
That accident was Nepal's deadliest since 1992 when all 167 people aboard a Pakistan International Airlines plane died when it crashed on approach to Kathmandu.
A Thai Airways plane had crashed nearby the same airport just two months prior, killing 113 people.