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Dozens killed in Kathmandu plane crash

March 12, 2018

At least 49 people have died and more than 20 are injured after a Bangladeshi plane burst into flames as it came in to land at Kathmandu airport. Officials said the plane was "out of control" as it approached the runway.

Plane crash in Kathmandu
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/N. Shreshta

Rescuers at Kathmandu airport were scrambling to pull people out of the burning wreckage after a US-Bangla Airlines plane from Dhaka crashed and burst into flames as it attempted to land.

Nepalese authorities said that 31 died on the spot when the aircraft crashed into a football field near the airport, while others died after being taken to the hospital.

Read more: Is tourism in crisis?

US-Bangla Airlines spokesman Kamrul Islam said 33 of the passengers on the flight were Nepali, 32 were Bangladeshi, one was Chinese and one from the Maldives.

Kathmandu's airport was closed briefly following the accident, forcing other inbound flights to divert. It has since reopened.

Passenger plane crashes at Kathmandu airport

Plane was 'out of control'

Plumes of black smoke could be seen rising out from the football field east of the sole runway to Nepal's only international airport.

Photos showed dozens of firefighters and rescue workers clustered around the plane. Hundreds more gathered on top of a hill, staring down at the wreckage.

Plane crash in Kathmandu
Hundreds of people look on as rescue teams scour the wreckageImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/N. Shreshta

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash, although a statement from airport authorities said the plane was "out of control" as it came in to land. Mohammed Selim, the airline's manager in Kathmandu, said the plane had circled the airport twice as it awaited clearance to land.

"There might be technical problems on the aircraft," Mahbubur Rahman, an official at Bangladesh's aviation ministry, told AFP. "But it has to be probed before making a final statement."

Nepal's poor air safety

Nepal has suffered several plane crashes in recent years, dealing a blow to its tourism industry. In 2012, a turboprop plane operated by Nepalese airline Sita Air hit a bird and crashed shortly after taking off, killing all 19 on board

In early 2016, another turboprop aircraft crashed into the Nepalese mountains, killing 23 people on board.

Just days later, two pilots died when a small passenger plane crash landed in the midwestern part of the country. 

Nepal's poor safety record has largely been blamed on inadequate maintenance, inexperienced pilots and poor management.

Plane crash in Kathmandu
Rescue teams scramble to pull out all 67 passengers on board, as well the four crew membersImage: Getty Images/AFP/P. Mathema

dm/kms (AP, AFP, dpa)