At least 68 people were killed Sunday when an aircraft went down near the city of Pokhara in central Nepal, a government official said, the country’s deadliest plane crash in more than 30 years.
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, according to Yeti Airlines. Thirty-seven were men, 25 were women, three were children and three were infants, Nepal’s civil aviation authority reported.
Search efforts were called off after dark, and will resume Monday morning. Hundreds of first responders were still working to locate the remaining four individuals before it was called off.
Sunday’s incident was the third-deadliest crash in the Himalayan nation’s history, according to data from the Aviation Safety Network. The only incidents in which more people were killed took place in July and September 1992. Those crashes involved aircraft run by Thai Airways and Pakistan International airlines and left 113 and 167 people dead, respectively.
The civil aviation authority stated 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 aircraft had been flying from the capital of Kathmandu to Pokhara, the country’s second-most populous city and a gateway to the Himalayas, the country’s state media The Rising Nepal reported. Pokahara is located some 129 kilometers (80 miles) west of Kathmandu.
The plane was last in contact with Pokhara airport at about 10:50 a.m. local time, about 18 minutes after takeoff. It then went down in the nearby Seti River Gorge. First responders from the Nepal Army and various police departments have been deployed to the crash site and are carrying out a rescue operation, the civil aviation authorities said in a statement.
The video of Nepal’s Yeti Airlines ATR 72 Plane Crash
A video clip (seen as the first part of the video below) on social media on Sunday appeared to show the moments before the plane crashed.
The film, which appears to be taken from the rooftop of a house in Pokhara, shows the plane flying low over a populated area and rolling on its side before the aircraft is no longer visible in the clip. A loud explosion can be heard at the end of the video.
A five-member committee has also been formed to investigate the cause of the crash. The quintet must submit a report to the government within 45 days, according to Nepal’s deputy prime minister and government spokesperson Bishnu Paudel.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said he was
The government declared Monday a public holiday to mourn the victims, according to a spokesman for the prime minister.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin both conveyed their condolences, as did Australia’s ambassador to Nepal.
Nepal’s Yeti Airlines said it was canceling all regular flights on Monday, January 16, in mourning for the victims of the crash.