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Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Plane crash in Himalayas

 For starters in Crossword – ‘Plane Crash in Himalayas’ was an easy clue : Nepal  (Anagram of Plane) –.. .. but a plane crash is horrendous !!

Yeti is an ape-like creature purported to inhabit the Himalayan mountain range in Asia. In western popular culture, the creature is commonly referred to as the Abominable Snowman.  


During my pilgrimage, Kathmandu – Tribhuvan International Airport appeared more akin to Vijayawada Railway station – there were so many aircrafts – big, small, smaller – and belonging to so many Airlines of so many different countries.  Travellers, tourists, many of them aspiring to trek Himalayas were steaming in from different parts of the globe – there are many Airlines too.  Yeti Airlines Pvt. Ltd., now in news for wrong reasons, is an airline based in Kathmandu, Nepal.  

Krishna Dvaipayana   better known as  Vedavyasa  was born near the confluence of the Gandaki and Madi rivers near Damauli, Tanahun, Nepal. It rises from the base of the Annapurna massif, and flows south and south-east past Pokhara and Damauli to join the Trishuli River near Devghat.  The lakes of Pokhara were created through a geological process. As the Seti river carried the moraine from Annapurna Himalayas after the burst of glacial lakes at various pre-historical time periods, the moraine were deposited on the routes of the rivers. This caused formation of natural lakes.  The Seti Gandaki River, also known as the Seti River or the Seti Khola, is a river of western Nepal, a left tributary of the Trishuli River.   

Nepal has seen some worst accidents in its aviation history –  Yeti Airlines Flight 691 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara. On 15 January 2023, the aircraft operating the route, an ATR 72 flown by Yeti Airlines, crashed while landing at Pokhara, killing all 72 occupants on board. It is the deadliest accident involving an ATR 72. The flight took off from Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport at 10:33 am NST; crashed on the bank of the Seti Gandaki River while on the short final prior to landing.  The crash occurred between the old Pokhara Airport and the new Pokhara International Airport, which was opened two weeks earlier and where the aircraft was attempting to land. The accident was Nepal's worst air crash since the crash of Pakistan International Airlines Flight 268 in 1992.

                                                                                    file photo 

According to an official at the Pokhara International Airport, air traffic control cleared the flight to land on runway 30 heading from east to west, but the captain requested the opposing runway 12 heading from west to east, minutes before the crash.  The weather was reportedly clear and perhaps was caused by some technical glitch !!   The aircraft involved in the crash was a 15-year-old twin-engine turboprop ATR 72–500, with serial number 754 and registration 9N-ANC. There were 72 people on board, 68 passengers and four crew members. 

Some reports suggest that the owner of Nepal's Yeti Airlines,  also had  died in an air crash three years ago. Aviation and hospitality entrepreneur Ang Tshering Sherpa died in a helicopter crash in February, 2019.  Anju Khatiwada was co-piloting Yeti Airlines flight 691 when it smashed into a gorge – her husband Dipak Pokhrel had also been co-piloting a Yeti Airlines flight when he died - and it was his death that spurred Anju to pursue a career in aviation.  Dipak was in the cockpit of a Twin Otter prop plane which was carrying rice and food to the western town of Jumla when it came down and burst into flames in June 2006, killing all nine people on board.  A trailblazer, Anju was one of just six women employed by the airline as pilots, and had flown close to 6,400 hours.

Sad ! – tragic indeed. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Jan 2023.

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