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Nepal air crash: 50 dead as US-Bangla Airlines plane crash-lands at Kathmandu airport

Nepal air crash: 50 dead as US-Bangla Airlines plane crash-lands at Kathmandu airport

A passenger plane of US-Bangla Airlines carrying 67 passengers and four crew members on board crash-landed at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on Monday.

Debris of airplane is pictured as rescue workers operate at Kathmandu airport, Nepal March 12, 2018. (Photo: Reuters) Debris of airplane is pictured as rescue workers operate at Kathmandu airport, Nepal March 12, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)

A passenger plane of US-Bangla Airlines carrying 67 passengers and four crew members on board crash-landed at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on Monday. At least 49 people are reportedly dead while others have been rescued. Out of the 67 passengers, 32 were from Bangladesh, 33 from Nepal, and one each from China and the Maldives.

The ill-fated Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft, which took off from Dhaka, clipped the airport fence before crash-landing at Kathmandu airport. Meanwhile, the chief executive officer of US-Bangla Airlines, Imran Asif, accused Kathmandu's air traffic control for giving wrong signals.

"A three-minute conversation between the pilot and the air traffic control before the landing indicated that they sent wrong signal to the pilot," he told reporters in Dhaka. 

However, the airport general manager Raj Kumar Chettri said the pilot disregarded their messages and came in from the wrong direction. Chettri said that moments after the plane received permission to land, the pilot said he wanted to go in a northern direction. Asked by the control tower if there was a problem, he replied in the negative.

The plane was then seen making two rounds in a northeast direction, Chettri said. Traffic controllers again asked the pilot if things were OK, and he replied,"Yes".

The tower then told the pilot his alignment was not correct, but there was no reply, Chettri added. 

As soon as the plane crashed in a football field, emergency services were rushed to the spot. The passengers who were rescued were taken to the hospital.

Turboprops like the Bombardier Dash 8 had an excellent safety record initially. But in 2007, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) grounded its fleet of Dash 8s after three crash landings in two months that year.

However, last year, budget carrier SpiceJet signed a purchase order of 50 Bombardier Q400s making it the largest order for this turboprop aircraft. The order is valued at $1.7 billion. Till last year, the airline operated 20 Q400 airplanes.

Nepal too has a record of poor air safety. In 2016, a Twin Otter turboprop crashed into a mountain killing all 23 people on board. Two days after this crash, another plane crash landed killing its two pilots.