RUP NARAYAN DHAKAL
POKHARA: An Agni Air plane carrying 21 people crashed near Jomsom Airport today, leaving 15 dead.
The 9N AIG Dornier plane hit a hillside near Marfa, minutes before it would have landed, at 9:46am, 16 minutes after it had taken off from Pokhara. The right wing of the plane hit the hillside while the pilot was trying to redirect the plane to Pokhara again after detecting a technical fault in the plane.
Six people miraculously survived the crash and were rescued by Nepali Army personnel. According to Mustang District Administration Office, 13 Indian nationals along with Captain Prabhu Sharan Pathak and Co-pilot SD Maharjan were killed. Eleven died on the spot while four succumbed to injuries while being treated at a hospital in Jomsom. The six injured, who were airlifted to Pokhara, are being treated at Manipal Teaching Hospital. Among the injured, three are Indian nationals, two Danes and air hostess Roshani Haiju. Condition of an Indian national, who is in ICU, is said to be critical. The Indian nationals were travelling to Jomsom for a pilgrimage to Muktinath, a sacred site for pilgrims.
Mustang CDO Laxmiraj Gautam said a Tara air plane and a chopper airlifted the injured to Pokhara after the crash. Just before the crash, the pilot had briefed Pokhara Airport that he was diverting the plane to Pokhara as he had detected some technical fault. The plane though ploughed into the hill, it did not catch fire, giving just about enough time for the survivors to escape.
Jomsom Airport, at an elevation of 8,880 feet (2,707 metres), is a treacherous high-altitude airfield and is considered to be one of the world’s most dangerous airstrips with mountainous terrain on the approach.
It was second deadly crash for Agni Air in less than two years. In August 2010, an Agni Air plane crashed in Shikharpur VDC of Makwanpur, killing all 14 people on board.
KATHMANDU: India’s Minister for External Affairs SM Krishna on Monday said he was deeply saddened by the tragic air crash that left 15 people dead, including 13 Indian nationals, and six injured near Jomsom Airport. “I am deeply saddened to hear about the tragic air crash... I would like to convey my deep condolences to the families of all those who have lost their lives in this accident,” said Krishna in a statement. He also consoled the families of those who were killed in the crash. The government of Nepal had informed the Embassy of India in Kathmandu about the Indian nationals travelling in the plane immediately after the crash. In a statement issued in the afternoon, the Indian embassy said three of those who survived the crash were Indians.
• Mr K Mamanya (India)
• Mr S K Arora (India)
• Mr M Handa (India)
• Mrs M Arora (India)
• Ms R Handa (India)
• Mr K Arora (India)
• Ms T Sachdev (India)
• Ms G Sachdev (India)
• Mr Sanaim Sudhar (India)
• Mr G Raman (India)
• MS Latha Echambade (India)
• Mr Kumar (India)
• Mrs Kumar (India)
• Mr Prabhu Saran Pathak, Pilot (Nepal)
• Mr SD Maharjan, Co-pilot (Nepal)
• Ms Roshni Haiju, 32, Air Hostess (Nepal)
• Mr Andreas R, 30, (Denmark)
• Mrs Emily J, 29, (Denmark)
• Mr Tirumala Kidambi Sreekanth, 32, (India)
• Ms Tirumala Kidambi Sreevardhini, 9, (India)
• Ms Tirumala Kidambi Sreepada, 6, (India)
Sky safety in question again
KATHMANDU: With Monday’s crash in Jomsom, the question once again is being asked: “How safe are our skies?” “We are not in a position to say everything is fine,” said Ratish Chandra Lal Suman, General Manager, Tribhuvan International Airport. “As far as this (Jomsom) crash is concerned, it is still not clear whether it was due to a technical glitch or human error,” he said. Aviation experts said, albeit evasively, that the person in command of the aircraft should not have taken the turn in a hurry. “If the landing gear had failed, the plane should have been given ample flight to reach the Kagbeni Valley before it was diverted to Pokhara. But it appears the aircraft was given a sharp turn in the Mustang Valley where such maneuvering is not possible given the mountainous terrain,” said Kumar Chalise, an aviation expert. “Pilots are trained to cope with emergency situation. They must go by the book.”