A Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) Twin Otter today morning skidded off the runway and plunged into the Kali Gandaki river banks but the passengers survived with injuries.
Though, there were no casualties reported, the crew members including pilot Capt Deependra Pradhan, co-pilot Suresh KC and air hostess Santa Maya Tamang and two Japanese passengers were seriously injured.
The injured crew members were airlifted by Tara Air to Gandaki Hospital, whereas Dynasty Air chopper air lifted Japanese passengers directly to the Manipal hospital in Pokhara. The pilot and copilot were, however, flown to Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj in Kathmandu by Dynasty Air chopper at around 1.30 pm as they were more critically injured.
It was the second and chartered flight of the ill-fated aircraft 9N–ABO DHC6 that had 22 passengers, including three crew members, eight Japanese, 10 Nepali passengers and a child.
According to the police, the wheel of the plane touched the runway but that the aircraft veered toward the right and crashed on the banks of the Kaligandaki. "The front portion of the plane was destroyed but the rear part remained intact," they said, adding that the left wing remained submerged in the river. Rescuers were able to pull the injured passengers and crew from the plane.
The Dynasty Air chopper airlifted all the passengers — in three rounds — including cabin crews for the first aid, after which the Japanese passengers have been in contact with their embassy in Kathmandu.
The aircraft overrun the runway after it landed at the Jomsom airport at around 8.40 in the morning. The Canadian-built Twin Otter aircraft had done its first flight today morning at 6:15 from Pokhara to Jomsom.
The aircraft might have skidded off on the mountainous airstrip due to the sudden fog and mountain wind in the Jomsom area that is 200-km northwest of the capital Kathmandu.
Today's crash reminded of another air crash a year ago in May 14, 2012 when an Agni Air aircraft crashed into a hill near the Jomsom airport, killing 15 people on board.
Meanwhile, the government has formed a four-member investigation committee led by former director general of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Ram Prasad Neupane. The committee — that has senior pilot of Tara Air Prabhakar Ghimire, senior aironautical engineer Meghendra Kumar Shrestha and joint secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane as members — will investigate and present its report within two months.
The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has promised to work on making the domestic sky safer.
However, the Jomsom Airport — the only airport in Mustang district at an elevation of 8,800 feet above the sea level — is surrounded by mountains and landing at the airport is somewhat risky compared to other airports.
NAC has only one aircraft for domestic flight
KATHMANDU: The ailing Nepal Airlines Corporation has, now, left with only one Twin Otter as it had recently called for tender to change the engine of three of its Twin Otter aircraft. "The changing of engine of these aircraft will take minimum of three months," according to a source at the corporation that will now be dependent on only one aircraft for the domestic flights. It had been flying to more than 25 destinations inside the country. "The domestic flights will have to be rearranged and reduced," he added.