KATHMANDU • A Bangladeshi airliner with 71 people on board crashed yesterday after making an unexpected turn in cloudy weather as it came in to land at the airport in Nepal's capital, killing at least 50 people, officials said.
The plane, operated by US-Bangla Airlines, was on a flight from Dhaka when it hit an airport fence and burst into flames, said Mr Raj Kumar Chettri, general manager of the hill-ringed airport, which is prone to bird strikes and other hazards.
The plane was said to have circled the airport twice before trying to land. Witnesses said it was wobbling in the air and seemed unbalanced as it approached. Those aboard included 33 Nepali passengers, 32 from Bangladesh, one from China and one from the Maldives, besides four crew members.
"All of a sudden the plane shook violently and there was a loud bang," one of the survivors, Mr Basanta Bohora, told the Kathmandu Post daily. "I was seated near a window and was able to break out of the window."
Said army spokesman Gokul Bhandari: "We have recovered 50 bodies so far."
Several people had been rescued from the burning wreckage of the Bombardier Q400 series aircraft but nine people were still unaccounted for, he said.
The aircraft came to rest in a field near the tarmac of Tribhuvan International Airport. Thick plumes of smoke could be seen from the aircraft. Later, photographs showed the fire had been put out, with army personnel and rescue workers at the scene.
Many of the bodies on the tarmac were charred, witnesses said.
Kathmandu's airport was closed due to the accident, said tracking website Flightradar24.com
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES, XINHUA