Nepal plane crash: Three die at world’s ‘most dangerous’ airport
April 15, 2019 11:04 am
Three people have died in a plane crash in Nepal, at what is regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous airports.
The plane veered off the runway and hit a stationary helicopter at Lukla Airport, the main gateway to the Everest region.
The runway is short and surrounded by mountains, making it extremely difficult for takeoff and landing.
The pilot of the plane and two police officers standing near the helicopter died. Three other people were injured.
Both aircraft belonged to companies involved in taking climbers, tourists and locals to the Everest region.
The reason for Saturday’s accident is not clear. Officials said the weather was good and flights later resumed their operations.
Eyewitness Bikram Raj Bhandari told the BBC: “I heard an explosion from some distance and ran towards the airport to see what had happened. There was smoke all around.”
Lukla Airport is located at an altitude of 2,845m (9,333ft).
In 2008, 18 people, including 12 Germans, were killed when a plane tried to land there. Two pilots died in similar circumstances less than two years ago.
One runway rests on the edge of a cliff with a 700m drop and the airport is often closed because of strong winds or heavy clouds.
Only experienced pilots are allowed to land at Lukla. They must have made at least 100 landings and takeoffs on short runways and worked in such conditions for at least a year in Nepal.
Because of an influx of tourists in recent years, the number of flights to the Himalayas has significantly increased.
However, Nepal has a poor flight safely record. In February, seven people died in a helicopter crash, including the country’s Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari.
The European Union has banned the flights of all Nepalese airlines in its airspace.