Nepal plane crash kills dozens

A plane crash in Nepal, a country located in southeastern Asia, has left at least 69 people dead, CBS News reports

The passenger plane – a twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft – had 72 people on board. The remaining three are also expected to be deceased.

The majority of the passengers on board – 53 – were from Napalese. The remainder were from the countries of India, Russia, Korea, Australia, Argentina, Ireland, and France. There were also four crew members.

What we know:

The crash took place on Sunday about a mile away from the new Pokhara International Airport. This airport was funded by the Chinese, and it just began operations about two weeks ago.

According to Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority, the plane last made contact with the airport at around 10:50 a.m. before crashing by the Seti Gorge, which is 984 feet deep.

Witnesses saw the crash take place. At least one witness says that the plane, after attempting to land, began to violently spin in the air. Then, the witness says that the plane fell nose-first before crashing into the gorge.

The crash split the plane’s fuselage into multiple pieces, which were scattered down the gorge. The crash also set the plane on fire, and the fire and smoke in combination with the gorge made rescue efforts more difficult.

What caused the crash?

As of yet, authorities do not have an answer to this question. An investigation has been ordered and is underway. On the day of the crash, the weather is reported to have been mild and not particularly windy.

CBS News cites “a pilot who routinely flies an ATR 72-500 plane from India to Nepal” as explaining what could have possibly happened.

The pilot suggested that blame may lie with the region’s topography – which “raises the risk of accidents and sometimes requires pilots to fly by sight rather than relying on instruments” – and the ATR-72 aircraft, which the pilot called “unforgiving” if a pilot isn’t skilled and knowledgable about the region’s conditions.

The latest reports indicate that the plane’s flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder have been recovered from the crash site.

Deadliest crash in decades

Reports indicate that Sunday’s crash is the deadliest crash in Nepal in 1992 when 167 passengers aboard a Pakistan International Airlines plane were killed.

Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who has gone to the scene of the crash, has called the incident “tragic.”

Monday was declared a national day of mourning in Nepal.

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