Nepal saw 11 deadly plane crashes since 2010: Why is flying so risky there?
Nepal plane crash: Nepal averages about one flight disaster a year. Since 2010, the Himalayan destination has witnessed at least 11 fatal plane crashes, including the latest Yeti Airlines crash in Pokhara.
A passenger aircraft with 72 people onboard – including five Indians – crashed into a river gorge seconds before landing at Nepal's Pokhara airport on Sunday, reportedly the deadliest plane crash in the Himalayan country in 30 years. More than 60 people have been killed in the crash.
Nepal averages about one flight disaster a year. Since 2010, the Himalayan destination has witnessed at least 11 fatal plane crashes, including the latest one. The last major aviation accident in Nepal happened on May 29 last year when all 22 people onboard a Tara Air plane were killed as it crashed in Mustang district.
According to information shared by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the Yeti Airlines' ATR-72 plane crashed between the old and new Pokhara airport while flying from Kathmandu. The aircraft fell into a gorge of the Seti river with 68 passengers and four crew. Videos of the crash and images of the wreckage flooded social media platforms.
While rescue operations continue and officials piece together the reason behind the latest tragedy, let us understand why it is so risky to fly an aircraft over Nepal.
Why does Nepal see frequent plane crashes?
Nepal – as picturesque as it appears – is considered one of the trickiest regions to fly an airplane due to the rocky and treacherous nature of its topography, low visibility and fickle weather patterns.
The country hosts several hard-to-access airstrips. The Tenzing-Hillary Airport in the northeastern region of Lukla is often referred to as the world’s most dangerous airport, with a single runway that angles down toward a valley below, a Bloomberg report said.
According to Nepal’s civil aviation authority's air safety report in 2019, the country's “diversity of weather patterns together with hostile topography are the main challenges surrounding aircraft operations in Nepal due to which the number of accidents related to small aircraft…seems comparatively higher”.
Sunday's Yeti Airlines crash was not due to bad weather as officials said skies were clear at the time of the accident. Meanwhile, flight tracking website FlightRadar24, in a tweet, mentioned that the Yeti Airlines aircraft was 15 years old and equipped with an old transponder with unreliable data.
Authorities have said that the death toll could rise as the plane was found completely destroyed.