A Bangladeshi airliner with 71 people on board crashed on March 12 2018 while coming in to land at the Nepali capital, killing at least 50 people.
Officials said the US-Bangla Airlines plane from Dhaka crashed just east of the runway and skidded into a nearby football field.
Rescuers had to cut apart the mangled and burned wreckage of the upturned aircraft to pull people out, some of whom were buried under the scattered debris.
“Forty people died at the spot and nine died at two hospitals in Kathmandu,” police spokesman Manoj Neupane told AFP, adding another 22 were being treated in hospital, some in a critical condition.
AP reports that Brig. Gen. Gokul Bhandari, the Nepal army spokesman, said 50 people had died and the fate of the others was unknown.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, but a statement from airport authorities said the plane was “out of control” as it came in to land.
An airport source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there may have been confusion between air traffic control and the pilot over which runway the plane was meant to land on.
Eyewitnesses said the plane crashed as it made a second approach towards the airport, bursting into flames after coming to a halt in a football pitch next to the runway.
“It should have come straight but it went in the other direction,” said airport cleaner Sushil Chaudhary, who saw the crash.
“I was worried it would hit another aircraft, but the pilot pulled the plane up. But then it crashed towards the field.”
Nepal Army spokesman Gokul Bhandaree said seven of the victims survived the impact but later died of their injuries.
Airline spokesman Kamrul Islam told AFP 33 of the passengers were Nepali, 32 were Bangladeshi, one was Chinese and one from the Maldives. Local media reported that many of the Nepali passengers were college students returning home for a holiday.
The plane was a Canadian-made Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprop, Mahbubur Rahman of Bangladesh’s civil aviation ministry told AFP. Other sources said the aircraft was 17 years old.
“There might be technical problems on the aircraft. But it has to be probed before making a final statement,” Rahman told AFP.
Kathmandu airport briefly closed after the accident, forcing inbound flights to divert, but it has since reopened.
It is Nepal’s only international airport and experts say the surrounding Himalayan landscape makes it testing for pilots coming into land.
“The landing at Kathmandu because of the terrain is a little challenging,” said Gabriele Ascenzo, a Canadian pilot who runs aviation safety courses in Nepal.
Depending on the direction of approach, pilots have to fly over high terrain before making a steep descent towards the airport, Ascenzo added.
The accident is the deadliest since September 1992, when all 167 people aboard a Pakistan International Airlines plane were killed when it crashed as it approached Kathmandu airport.