Nepal plane crash: Europeans among 72 people on board

At least 68 people were killed on Sunday when a passenger aircraft crashed in Pokhara, a resort town in central Nepal, an official said.

European passengers were also aboard the plane, which carried 72 people.

It crashed while trying to land at a newly opened airport, causing the country's deadliest aviation accident in over three decades.

Scores of rescuers and locals scoured the crash site near Pokhara International Airport for bodies throughout Sunday, said Tek Bahadur, a senior administrative officer in the Kaski district.

The plane was carrying 68 passengers and four crew members, the Kathmandu Post newspaper reported, quoting a spokesperson for Yeti Airlines.

On board were five Indian nationals, four Russians, two Koreans, an Australian, an Argentinian, an Irishman and a Frenchman, reported Sudrashan Bardaula of Yeti Airlines.

One witness said they saw the plane spinning violently in the air as it attempted to land.

Wreckage was spread across a wide area after the impact, with debris on the edge of a cliff and in the ravine below.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said the plane was flying from the capital, Kathmandu, to Pokhara and he urged security personnel and the general public to help with the rescue efforts.

Local resident Bishnu Tiwari, who rushed to the crash site to help search search for bodies, said the rescue efforts were hampered because of thick smoke and a raging fire that engulfed the aircraft.

“The flames were so hot that we couldn’t go near the wreckage. I heard a man crying for help, but because of the flames and smoke we couldn’t help him,” Tiwari said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the accident.

Some bodies, burned beyond recognition, were carried by firefighters to hospitals, where grief-stricken relatives had assembled.

At Kathmandu airport, where the flight began, family members appeared distraught as they were escorted in and at times exchanged heated words with officials as they waited for information.

Pokhara, located 200 km west of Kathmandu, is the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, a popular hiking trail in the Himalayas.

Images and videos shared on Twitter showed plumes of smoke billowing from the crash site as rescue workers and crowds of people gathered around the wreckage of the aircraft. Nepalese soldiers were also involved in the rescue efforts at the crash site.