Nepal Plane Crash With 72 Passengers Leaves At Least 68 Dead

Nepal’s Yeti Airlines Crash Leaves 68 Passengers Dead and 4 Still Missing

Authorities say that any survivors are unlikely.

At least 68 people were confirmed dead due to a plane crash in Nepal on 15 Jan 2023. The disaster is said to be the country’s deadliest plane crash in over three decades. The previous one was in 1992, when 167 people were killed when a Pakistan International Airlines flight crashed on approach to Kathmandu.

Nepal’s Yeti Airlines, which operated the flight, confirmed a total of 72 people onboard: 68 passengers and four flight crew. According to reports from Nepal’s civil aviation authority, 15 passengers were foreign nationals; including five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans, and individual citizens from Ireland, France, Australia, and Argentina.  

The airline has suspended all regular flights scheduled for 16 Jan 2022, in mourning for the victims. 

What we know so far about the 2023 Nepal plane crash

The newly constructed airstrip of PRIA | Image courtesy of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal

Yeti Airlines Flight 691 was headed for Pokhara Regional International Airport (PRIA) from the capital, Kathmandu. The twin-propeller turbojet crashed near the city of Pokhara, a popular point of entry among travellers looking to visit the Himalayas for trekking and religious pilgrimage. 

The flight took off at 10.30am on Sunday, and it was last in contact with PRIA at 10.50am. Seconds later, the plane crashed on the banks of the Seti Gandaki River, just as it was on approach to PRIA. The airport was recently inaugurated on 1 Jan 2023. 

nepal plane crash

Image credit: Goddard_Photography via Canva Pro

First responders from the Nepal Army and various police departments have been deployed to the crash site and are carrying out rescue operations. “We haven’t rescued anyone alive from the crash site,” said Army spokesman Krishna Prasad Bhandari. He also stated that hundreds of first responders are working to locate the remaining four individuals.

There is also a viral video clip showing the moments before the plane crashed, as it was flying low over a residential area and rolling on its side. A loud explosion can be heard at the end of the footage. It appears to have been taken from the rooftop of a house in Pokhara. 

Investigations currently ongoing

nepal plane crash

Image credit: FlightRadar24

PRIA spokesperson Anup Joshi stated that ATR 72-500 plane was on a normal descent and that the weather on Sunday was clear. This aircraft is often used in the Asia-Pacific region, especially among low-cost carriers. ATR is a Franco-Italian aircraft manufacturer that is a joint venture between European aeronautics companies, Airbus and Leonardo.

However, flight tracker data shows that the plane was already 15 years old and “equipped with an old transponder with unreliable data.” Spokespeople from ATR have already confirmed that they will cooperate with investigations into the crash. 

The Nepal government has formed a five-member committee to investigate the cause of the crash. According to Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesperson Bishnu Paudel, the committee must submit a report within 45 days. Aviation authorities have also been instructed to conduct technical inspections of aircraft for all domestic flights. 

Image credit: pra_mrjn via Canva Pro

Nepal is known for having eight of the tallest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest. Given this topography, most of its airstrips are located in high-altitude areas that are difficult to reach, and where the weather can change instantly. 

Prior to this recent Nepal plane crash, the last one occurred in May 2022, when a Tara Air flight crashed into a nearby Himalayan mountain and killed 22 people. 

Also read: Here Are All the Countries With Zero Travel Restrictions

As of writing, search and rescue operations for the 2023 Nepal plane crash are still ongoing. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families amid this tragedy.

Featured image credit: FlightRadar24 | Official Website

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Marcy Miniano
Marcy Miniano

A fast-talking caffeine-dependent wordsmith, Marcy has never been one to shy away from sharing a good story or two. If she’s not in a quiet coffee shop somewhere, she enjoys spending afternoons in a museum or art gallery — whether it’s around Metro Manila or a foreign city she’s visiting. She wishes to retire in a winter village someday, so she can fulfil her lifelong dream of wearing turtlenecks all year round and owning a pet penguin.