Turkish Airlines plane skids off Nepal runway, no one injured

A stranded passenger waits at Tribhuvan International Airport following the airport's closure after a Turkish Airlines plane overshot a runway in Kathmandu on March 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A stranded passenger waits at Tribhuvan International Airport following the airport's closure after a Turkish Airlines plane overshot a runway in Kathmandu on March 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A view of the damaged wheels of the Turkish Airlines plane which skidded off the runway while landing at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, on March 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
A view of the damaged wheels of the Turkish Airlines plane which skidded off the runway while landing at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, on March 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
Passengers leaving a Turkish Airlines plane which skidded off the runway on landing at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport on March 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Passengers leaving a Turkish Airlines plane which skidded off the runway on landing at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport on March 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Nepalese rescue workers checking the area around a Turkish Airlines aircraft after it slid off the tarmac on landing at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport on March 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Nepalese rescue workers checking the area around a Turkish Airlines aircraft after it slid off the tarmac on landing at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport on March 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Rescue workers checking the area around a Turkish Airlines plane after it slid off the tarmac on landing at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport on March 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Rescue workers checking the area around a Turkish Airlines plane after it slid off the tarmac on landing at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport on March 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Nepalese emergency officials inspecting a Turkish Airlines plane after it skidded off the runway while landing at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal on March 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
Nepalese emergency officials inspecting a Turkish Airlines plane after it skidded off the runway while landing at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal on March 4, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA

KATHMANDU (AFP) - A Turkish Airlines plane carrying 224 passengers had to be evacuated after it missed the runway on landing at Kathmandu airport on Wednesday and skidded onto nearby grassland.

Aviation officials said no one on board was injured, although one witness described how terrified passengers leapt from their seats as the cabin filled with smoke after the plane skidded to a halt.

The airport has now been closed except to helicopters, spokesman Purna Prasad Chudal said, adding that visibility was reasonable despite fog earlier in the day.

Chudal said the pilot overshot the runway during an initial attempt to land, before making a second try that sent the plane skidding off the tarmac.

"As the plane approached, it somehow missed the runway and ended up in the grassland area," said the airport's general manager Birendra Prasad Shrestha.

"All 224 passengers have been evacuated, no injuries, everyone is safe," Shrestha told AFP.

Photographs on social media showed the jet with its nose to the ground, with local newspaper reports saying its landing gear appeared to have collapsed.

Dikesh Malhotra, who was returning from a business trip, said the impact of the landing caused bags to fall on terrified passengers, who clutched their seats, anxiously waiting for the plane to stop moving.

"We could feel the tyres skid... I could see an air hostess from my seat, she had tears in her eyes," Malhotra, 28, told AFP.

When the plane stopped, smoke filled the cabin, making it difficult to breathe, he said.

"Everyone got up and started shouting to open the door... finally they announced evacuation... we were so relieved," he said.

Airport spokesman Chudal said officials would launch an investigation into the crash and question the pilot.

"The plane had permission to land and while conditions were foggy earlier, visibility was ok," Chudal told AFP.

"We are not sure how this happened."

The Himalayan nation is home to some of the world's most remote and tricky runways, flanked by snow-capped peaks and terrain that poses a challenge even for accomplished pilots.

A string of crashes as well as the European Union's decision to blacklist all Nepalese airlines prompted government officials last year to announce plans to install new radar and weather monitoring systems which would provide real-time updates.

In the most recent accident last February, a Nepal Airlines plane slammed into a hillside in the country's western region during heavy rain, killing all 18 people on board.