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Nepal plane crash: French expert team reaches Pokhara to assist in investigation

Sunday's crash was the third biggest in Nepal in terms of casualties

Nepal Plane Crash (File) Rescuers scour the crash site in the wreckage of a passenger plane in Pokhara, Nepal | AP

A nine-member team of experts from France arrived here on Tuesday to help the Nepal government investigate a plane crash in which 71 people lost their lives.

Yeti Airlines' 9N-ANC ATR-72 aircraft with 72 people on board, including five Indians, crashed minutes before landing on the bank of the Seti River in the resort city of Pokhara on Sunday. A total of 68 passengers and four crew members were on board the aircraft.

The Nepal government has formed a five-member probe committee to investigate the crash. The probe panel headed by former aviation secretary Nagendra Ghimire has been asked to investigate the accident and submit its report within 45 days.

A senior official at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, said that the expert team from the company that manufactures the ATR aircraft reached Kathmandu on Tuesday.

“The team has already reached Pokhara," Joint Secretary Lamichhane told PTI. “The French team will assist the probe committee to investigate the matter. The committee has already started its investigation into the incident,” he said.

The ATR-72 is a twin-engine turboprop, short-haul regional airliner developed in France and Italy by aircraft manufacturer ATR, which is a joint venture between French aerospace company Aerospatiale and Italian aviation conglomerate Aeritalia.

The number 72 in its name is derived from the aircraft's typical standard seating capacity of 72 passengers.

The crashed ATR-72 Nepalese passenger plane was previously used by the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines owned by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, according to Cirium Fleets data. It was the first instance that such a model met with an accident in Nepal's chequered aviation history.

Currently, only Buddha Air and Yeti Airlines employ ATR-72 aircraft in Nepal. According to Nepal's civil aviation body, 914 people have died in air crashes in the country since the first disaster was recorded in August 1955.

The Yeti Airlines tragedy in Pokhara on Sunday is the 104th crash in Nepali skies and the third biggest in terms of casualties.


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