On Sunday, January 15th, 2023, a tragic plane crash occurred near the city of Pokhara in central Nepal, leaving at least 68 people dead and 4 missing. This marks the country’s deadliest plane crash in over 30 years, and the third deadliest in Nepal’s history.
According to a government official, 72 people, including 4 crew members and 68 passengers, were on board the ATR 72 plane operated by Nepal’s Yeti Airlines when the incident occurred. Nepal’s civil aviation authority reported that 37 were men, 25 were women, 3 were children, and 3 were infants.
Search efforts were called off after dark, but will resume Monday morning. At the time of suspension, hundreds of first responders were working to locate the remaining 4 individuals. Among the dead is at least one infant, as reported by Nepal’s civil aviation authority.
The aircraft had been flying from the capital of Kathmandu to Pokhara, the country’s second-most populous city and a gateway to the Himalayas. Pokhara is located around 129 kilometers (80 miles) west of Kathmandu. The plane was last in contact with Pokhara airport at about 10:50 a.m. local time, 18 minutes after takeoff. It then went down in the nearby Seti River Gorge.
First responders from the Nepal Army and various police departments have been deployed to the crash site and are carrying out a rescue operation. A video clip on social media appears to show the moments before the aircraft crashed. The film, which appears to be taken from rooftop of a house in Pokhara, shows the plane flying low over a populated area and rolling on its side before the aircraft is no longer visible in the clip. A loud explosion can be heard at the end of the video.
The cause of the crash is currently unknown, and investigations are ongoing. The government has declared Monday a public holiday to mourn the victims, and Yeti Airlines has canceled all regular flights for the day. Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal expressed his deep sadness and condolences for the victims and their families, and called for an effective rescue operation. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President also conveyed their condolences, as did Australia’s Ambassador to Nepal.
This tragic incident serves as a reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of safety in air travel. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and we hope for a speedy recovery for the injured.