At least 32 people were killed on Sunday when an aircraft crashed near central Nepal’s Pokhara, a spokesman for the airline said.
Seventy-two people – four crew members and 68 passengers – were on board the ATR-72 plane operated by Nepal’s Yeti Airlines when it crashed, Yeti Airlines spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula said.
The country’s civil aviation authority reported that 53 of the passengers and all four crew members were Nepali. Fifteen foreign nationals were on the plane as well: five were Indian, four were Russian and two were Korean. The rest were individual citizens of Australia, Argentina, France and Ireland.
The district police and the district administration office are carrying out a rescue operation and hope to rescue at least a few survivors, said Tek Bahadur K.C., the chief district officer of Kaski.
He said 32 dead bodies were now in Gandaki Hospital.
The aircraft had been flying from the capital of Kathmandu to Pokhara, some 129 kilometers (80 miles) west of the capital, the country’s state media The Rising Nepal reported.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said he was “deeply saddened by the sad and tragic accident.”
“I sincerely appeal to the security personnel, all agencies of the Nepal government and the general public to start an effective rescue,” Dahal said on Twitter.
The Himalayan country of Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest, has a record of air accidents. Its weather can change suddenly and airstrips are typically sited in difficult-to-reach mountainous areas.
Last May, a Tara Air flight carrying 22 people crashed into a Himalayan mountain at an altitude of about 14,500 feet. That was the country’s 19th plane crash in 10 years and its 10th fatal one during the same period, according to the Aviation Safety Network database.
This is a developing story. More to follow.