Kathmandu, NepalCNN — Officials in Nepal have confirmed that at least 68 people perished in the country's worst plane disaster in more than 30 years, which occurred on Sunday near the city of Pokhara in central Nepal.
Yeti Airlines spokesperson Sudarshan Bartaula said that a total of 72 individuals were on board the crashed ATR 72 plane: 4 crew members and 68 passengers. The Nepalese civil aviation authorities recorded 37 males, 25 females, 3 children, and 3 babies.
Army spokesperson Krishna Prasad Bhandari stated that search operations were suspended after darkness fell and will resume on Monday morning. Bhandari added that at the time, hundreds of rescuers were still trying to find the missing four people.
According to the Aviation Safety Network, the disaster on Sunday was the third worst in the history of the Himalayan country. Only in two separate occurrences in July and September of 1992 did more fatalities occur.
There were a total of 113 and 167 individuals killed in the two incidents involving Thai Airways and Pakistan International planes, respectively.
According to the Nepalese civil aviation authorities, all 54 people on the flight were from Nepal. There were a total of 15 non-citizens on board, including 5 Indians, 4 Russians, and 2 Koreans.
The remaining people were made up of random individuals from Australia, Argentina, France, and Ireland.
State-run Rising Nepal stated that the plane went down while traveling between Kathmandu and Pokhara. Pokhara is Nepal's second-largest city and a gateway to the Himalayas. About 129 kilometers (80 miles) west of Kathmandu lies the city of Pokhara.
At about 10:50 a.m. local time, the jet lost communication with Pokhara airport. A representative from Pokhara airport told Reuters on Monday that the pilot requested a different runway minutes before the plane's Sunday landing attempt.
"We don't question local time, the jet lost communication with Pokhara airport. A representative from Pokhara airport told Reuters on Monday that the pilot requested a different runway minutes before the plane's Sunday landing attempt.
"We don't question why; if a pilot requests it, we provide authorization to alter our approach," the spokeswoman, Anup Joshi, told Reuters. The civil aviation authorities issued a statement saying that rescue workers from the Nepal Army and other police agencies had been sent to the disaster scene.
On Sunday, what appeared to be footage from just before the plane went down was posted online. The video seems to have been shot from the roof of a home in Pokhara, and it shows the plane flying low over a busy area before it rolls onto its side and disappears from view.
By the conclusion of the clip, you can hear an explosion. This video's veracity has not been confirmed by CNN's investigation. In addition, a five-person committee has been established to look into what led to the accident.
According to Nepal's deputy prime minister and government spokesman, Bishnu Paudel, the five-person team has 45 days to report back to the government.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the prime minister of Nepal, expressed his "deep sadness" at the "sad and terrible event." "I earnestly urge the security officers, the agencies of the Nepal government, and the general public to begin an effective rescue," Dahal said on Twitter.
A spokeswoman for the prime minister said that Monday will be a national day of mourning for the deaths. Foreign leaders from Australia, India, and Russia have all sent messages of sympathy to Nepal, as has the prime minister of Nepal.
As a mark of respect for the victims of the plane tragedy, Yeti Airlines of Nepal announced on Monday, January 16, that all of its regularly scheduled flights will be canceled. On Monday, the French body in charge of aviation safety said that it would be sending four investigators to the scene of the disaster on Tuesday.
In the meantime, the Russian Investigative Committee stated in a statement on Monday that a criminal investigation had been initiated to determine what caused the disaster.
Nepal, in the Himalayas, has a history of aviation catastrophes despite being home to eight of the world's 14 tallest mountains, including Everest. Airstrips are generally located in inconveniently hilly places, and the weather may change quickly.
In May of last year, at an estimated height of 14,500 feet, a Tara Air aircraft carrying 22 passengers crashed into a Himalayan mountain. According to the Aviation Safety Network database, it was the 19th aircraft disaster in the nation during the last decade and the 10th fatal crash.
The ATR 72-500 twin-prop turbojet was widely employed by low-cost airlines in the Asia-Pacific area and was the kind of aircraft that crashed on Sunday. Aircraft manufactured by ATR, a cooperation between European aviation giants Airbus and Leonardo, have earned a solid reputation.
However, they are no strangers to collisions. The defunct Taiwanese airline Transasia lost two ATR 72s in separate fatal accidents in July 2014 and February 2015. After the second incident, all ATR 72s with a Taiwanese registration was temporarily grounded.
Before Sunday's tragedy in Nepal, the Aviation Safety Network reported 11 fatal occurrences involving ATR 72s of different variants.
ATR released a statement on Sunday saying that it had been made aware of the incident.
"Our first thoughts go out to everyone who has been impacted by this," the statement said. Experts in ATR are committed to helping with the investigation and the client.
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