68 killed, 4 missing in Nepal’s third-deadliest plane crash, officials say

At least 68 people died and four remained missing Sunday after a passenger plane crashed in Nepal while attempting to land, officials said.

The twin-engine ATR 72 plane was carrying 68 passengers and four crew members when it struck a gorge near a new airport in Pokhara, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. The cause of the crash remains unclear.

It was the deadliest plane crash in Nepal since 1992, when 167 people were killed in an aircraft’s collision with a hill in Kathmandu, the country’s capital.

“The incident was tragic. The full force of the Nepali army, police has been deployed for rescue,” Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said Sunday as he enlisted an investigation into the cause of the crash.

The Yeti Airlines flight departed Kathmandu Sunday morning and was last in touch with the destination airport at 10:50 a.m. local time, shortly before going down near the Seti River, officials said.

“The flames were so hot that we couldn’t go near the wreckage. I heard a man crying for help, but because of the flames and smoke we couldn’t help him,” said Bishnu Tiwari, a local resident.

The plane began spinning as it neared landing before falling nose-first, a witness said.

Responders planned to resume the search for the four missing people Monday after pausing their efforts overnight. Officials expect to recover more bodies from the gorge, a senior administrative official said.

The 125-mile flight to the popular vacation spot had 15 foreign nationals on board, including five Indians, four Russians and two South Koreans. The Russians died in the crash, an ambassador confirmed.

Nepal has recorded 42 plane crashes resulting in fatalities since 1946.

With News Wire Services