Hundreds of emergency personnel resumed search and recovery efforts in Nepal on Monday following a deadly plane crash that once again highlights the dangers of air travel in a country regarded as one of the most hazardous.
A Yeti Airlines flight crashed near Pokhara Sunday, killing at least 68 of the 72 people on board.
According to Kaski District Police Chief Superintendent Ajay K.C., the chances of finding survivors are “extremely low” as workers pull bodies from the gorge using a crane.
It was the nation’s worst aviation disaster in 30 years, according to Aviation Safety Network data. It is also the third-worst accident in the nation’s history.
Several factors contribute to Nepal’s reputation as a notoriously dangerous place for aviation, such as inclement weather, low visibility, and mountainous terrain.
Some 15 foreigners were aboard the Yeti Airlines flight that lost contact with a control tower near the end of its short journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara.
With more than 181,000 foreign visitors visiting the area in 2019, Pokhara is a popular tourist destination and gateway to the Himalayas.
In collaboration with French authorities, the government committee is investigating the cause of the crash. The Yeti Airlines plane was manufactured by the French aerospace company ATR.
According to officials, the plane’s black box, which records flight data, was recovered on Monday.
Nepal’s “hostile topography” is also part of the “huge challenge” facing pilots, according to a 2019 safety report from Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority.
Its beautiful rugged landscapes and eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains make Nepal a popular tourist destination for trekkers.
It is difficult to navigate this terrain from the air, particularly during bad weather, and access to the most remote and mountainous areas of the country requires small aircraft.
According to a Civil Aviation Authority report, aircraft with 19 seats or fewer are more likely to have accidents.
Many of these small flights depart from Kathmandu, Nepal’s primary transit hub.
Lukla airport, located in northeastern Nepal, is often referred to as the most dangerous airport in the world. As the gateway to Everest, this airport’s runway drops into an abyss at the end, dropping straight into the mountains. The runway has seen multiple fatal crashes in the past few years, including in 2008 and 2019.
Flight risks only increase as aging aircraft are not properly maintained.
As part of its Aviation Safety Implementation Assistance Partnership, the International Civil Aviation Organization prioritized Nepal in 2015. Two years later, the ICAO and Nepal announced a partnership to resolve safety concerns.
In recent years, the country has improved its safety standards, but challenges remain.
22 people were killed when a Tara Air flight from Pokhara crashed into a mountain in May 2022.
The crash on landing of a US-Bangla Airlines flight from Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka to Kathmandu in early 2018 killed 51 of the 71 people on board.
Tara Air lost an aircraft in 2016 while flying the same route as the flight that was lost on Sunday. The aircraft was a recently acquired Twin Otter that had been flying in clear weather at the time of the crash.