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14 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 14 March, 2018 01:42:33 AM
US-Bangla plane crash

Dhaka, Kathmandu start separate probes

Dhaka, Kathmandu start 
separate probes
Relatives of a passenger, killed in the US-Bangla plane crash, fill forms to receive the body from the government hospital in Nepal’s Kathmandu yesterday. Inset, relatives of another passenger mourn in front of the mortuary there. AP Photos

Two more passengers of the US-Bangla plane crash in Kathmandu succumbed to their injuries yesterday, taking the death toll to 51. Quoting the home ministry, the Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS) announced that 22 Nepalis, 28 Bangladeshis, and a Chinese passenger died in the accident—the third deadliest aviation accident involving an international carrier in Nepal, the Kathmandu Post reported yesterday.

However, the list released by the Bangladesh embassy in Kathmandu quoted a different number. The list named 36 passengers, pilots, and cabin crew among the Bangladeshi citizens on board. According to its estimate, 26 Bangladeshi citizens were killed. Of them, 22 were passengers, two pilots, and two crew members.

Ten other Bangladeshi passengers were critically injured and admitted to different hospitals, Qamrul Islam, general manager (public relations) of US-Bangla Airlines, said yesterday. There were 71 passengers and crew on board the ill-fated aircraft when the incident occurred.

The US-Bangla Airlines authority said pilot Abid Sultan, who died in the crash, was a former pilot of the Bangladesh Air Force. He was an experienced pilot and had landed more than 100 times at Kathmandu airport, where wind shear and bird hits are frequent hazards. He had more than 5,000 hours of flying experience and was specially trained to land at the airport, said Kamrul Islam,  general manager of US-Bangla Airlines. The authorities of both Nepal and Bangladesh have started investigations to ferret out the reason(s) behind the crash. The authorities of Nepal have already started studying the flight data recorder recovered from the wreckage of the crashed US-Bangla airliner, said Raj Kumer Chhetri, general manager of Tribhuvan International Airport.

Nepal on Monday formed a six-member panel to probe the incident. This is the worst plane crash in Nepal since the one in 1992 involving a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft which left 167 dead.

The Canadian aircraft-maker Bombardier said it would send an air-safety investigator and a field service representative to the site, Reuters has reported.

The airline and the Kathmandu airport are blaming each other for the crash. Six officers stationed at the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Tower who were on duty during the crash have been transferred to another department to “minimise the shock of the accident”, Nepal’s ‘My Republica’ has reported.

“This is a standard procedure to release stress after a fateful incident. They witnessed a huge disaster and are in shock. Hence, we have transferred them to other departments to reduce their stress,” said Rajan Pokharel, deputy director general at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.

Pokharel clarified that the transfer was not due to the leaks of audio conversations between ATC and the pilot before the impact. The last snippets of the conversations between the US-Bangla Flight BS 211 pilot and the ATC at Tribhuvan airport exposed terrifying moments of confusion over where to land the aircraft.

A high-level Bangladeshi delegation, including civil aviation and tourism minister AKM Shahjahan Kamal, reached Kathmandu yesterday. The team will take stock of the situation and discuss the possible reasons for the disaster with the Nepal authorities.

Shahjahan Kamal told the media, “The black box has been recovered from the debris. It is being investigated. We will inform everything after getting the report.”

The relatives of the victims reached Kathmandu yesterday. “A special plane of US-Bangla reached Kathmandu around 9 am with 53 people. Of them, 46 are relatives of passengers and seven are US-Bangla officials,” said Qamrul Islam, general manager (public relations) of US-Bangla Airlines.

“The relatives started contacting us soon after the plane crashed. In view of the severity of the matter, we have sent 46 relatives of passengers to Kathmandu,” he added.

The US-Bangla authority has announced that it will bear all expenses of the injured passengers who have been admitted to different hospitals in Kathmandu, read a statement of Qamrul Islam of US-Bangla Airlines yesterday.

“US-Bangla is aware of the issue of compensating the victims. Each passenger was insured. It is a matter of procedure but nothing can be said right now,” he added.


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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