Blame game begins over US-Bangla plane crashes at TIA

In the worst aviation disaster to hit Nepal in almost three decades, a US-Bangla Airlines aircraft flying from Dhaka to Kathmandu crashed while landing at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), killing 49 persons on board.

The airline's chief executive Imran Asif said on Monday that there had been a "fumble from the control tower" as the plane approached the airport's single runway.

Plumes of black smoke could be seen rising from the football pitch where the plane crashed, to the east of the runway at Nepal's only worldwide airport, in the capital Kathmandu.

According to general manager at the TIA, Raj Kumar Chhettri, the plane crashed at 2:18 pm when it took a missed approach touching down the fencing area next to the parked planes at the airport.

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The toll in Nepal's worst aviation disaster rose to 51 today with the death of two more passengers, as Bangladeshi experts joined the probe amid reports of an apparent confusion between the pilot and air traffic control over the runway. Gen. Gokul Bhandari, the Nepal army spokesman, said it was clear that at least 50 people had died. He did not provide the nationalities of the four crew members. He was asked to turn right, but immediately after that, the Flight 211 pilot says "Affirmative", that the runway is in sight.

Kathmandu's airport has been the site of several deadly crashes.

A separate conversation between the tower and a Nepali pilot added to the sense of miscommunication between the controllers and the pilot of the Bangladeshi plane before the crash.

Responding to question regarding the instruction given by ATC to flight pilot, Gautam said, "ATC had informed the flight pilot to land the plane on southern runway (02) but then the plane headed towards the northern runway (20)". Officials said there were 71 people on board the aircraft arriving from Dhaka.

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One of the survivors remembers how fire broke out, but he cannot remember how he got out of the plane.

The 17-year-old plane had circled Tribhuvan International Airport twice as it waited for clearance to land, a company official said.

US-Bangla operates Boeing 737-800 and smaller Bombardier Dash 8 planes, the model of the plane that crashed.

Speaking at a presser organised at Tribhuvan International Airport, Secretary at the Ministry Krishna Prasad Devkota stated that it was too early to comment on how the passenger plane flying from Dhaka crashed at Nepal's only international airport on Monday, killing 49 passengers on board.

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"There was a mess, people were running on the aircraft, many ambulances and firefighters".

  • Ryan Wade