A day after a US-Bangla Airlines passenger plane enroute Dhaka crashed in Kathmandu, airport authorities Tuesday recovered the black box from the remains of the aircraft. At least 49 people were killed of the 71 people on board on Monday, as the pilot tried to land at the Tribhuvan International Airport. On crashing on a football field just beyond the airport, the aircraft burst into flames. While an investigation into the accident is underway.
“The flight data recorder has been recovered and we have kept it safely,” Raj Kumar Chettri, the airport’s general manager, was quoted as saying by Reuters. The electronic recording device will help authorities ascertain what led to the crash.
As per initial reports, the pilot navigated through half of the 3-kilometre runway, before turning to a different direction than what he was meant to land on. Sources told The Indian Express that this was a result of some confusion between the Air Control tower and the pilot, who veered on an unusual route while trying land — North to South instead of South to North.
The nationalities of those on board were later identified; there were 33 Nepalese, 32 Bangladeshis and one Chinese and Maldivian national, apart from four crew members.
On visiting the crash site on Monday, Nepal Prime Minister K P Oli said his government would order an inquiry into the cause of the accident. In a statement, the Prime Minister said he has constituted a six-member team, headed by a former government secretary, to look into the incident and determine the cause, reported The Associated Press. The team will also look into ways to prevent future crashes.
The Kathmandu airport has seen several crashes in the past, the most recent one being in 2012. A Sita Air turboprop plane ferrying trekkers to Mount Everest hit a bird shortly after takeoff and crashed. All 19 on board were killed. Monday’s crash halted operations at the airport — domestic and international — for nearly three hours.
An eyewitness, Nitin Keyal, said, “It was flying very low. Everyone just froze looking at it. You could tell it wasn’t a normal landing. For a few minutes, no one could believe what was happening.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter yesterday and expressed anguish at the loss of lives in the plane crash in Kathmandu. “My thoughts are with the families of the deceased and I pray that those injured recover at the earliest,” he tweeted.
Deeply anguished by the loss of lives due to the plane crash in Kathmandu. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased and I pray that those injured recover at the earliest.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 12, 2018
(With inputs from agencies)