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Why is it so dangerous to fly in Nepal?


The crash of a plane carrying 72 people in Nepal on Sunday highlighted the dangers of air travel in the country.

Rescuers inspect the wreckage at a plane crash site in Pokhara, Nepal, on Jan. 15, 2023. (PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNN) --

The crash of a plane carrying 72 people in Nepal highlighted the dangers of air travel in a country often considered one of the world's most dangerous places to fly.

The disaster this Sunday left at least 68 people dead, becoming the worst plane crash in the Himalayan country in the last 30 years.

It was also the third worst aviation accident in the country's history, according to data from the Aviation Safety Network.

  • At least 68 dead in Nepal's worst plane crash in 30 years;

    there is an Argentine among the victims

Experts say conditions such as inclement weather, low visibility and mountainous topography contribute to Nepal's reputation as a notoriously dangerous place to fly.

The Yeti Air flight on Sunday had been 18 minutes into the journey when it lost contact with a control tower in the central city of Pokhara.

The plane had nearly finished its short journey from Kathmandu, the capital, to Pokhara, Nepal's second most populous city and gateway to the Himalayas.

hostile topography

Changing weather patterns are not the only problem for flight operations.

According to a 2019 safety report from the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority, the country's "hostile topography" is also part of the "enormous challenge" pilots face.


A country of 29 million people, Nepal is home to eight of the world's 14 highest mountains, including Everest, and its beautiful rugged landscapes make it a popular tourist destination for trekkers.

But this terrain can be difficult to navigate from the air, especially in bad weather, and matters are made worse by the need to use small planes to access the most remote and mountainous areas of the country.

Aircraft with 19 seats or less are more likely to suffer accidents due to these problems, according to the Civil Aviation Authority report.

The capital, Kathmandu, is Nepal's main transit hub, from where many of these small flights depart.

The airport in the city of Lukla, in northeastern Nepal, is often considered the most dangerous airport in the world.

Known as the gateway to Everest, the airport's runway is laid out on a cliff between mountains, dropping directly into an abyss at the end.

The lack of investment in obsolete aircraft only increases the risks of flight.

In 2015, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN body, prioritized helping Nepal through its Aviation Safety Implementation Assistance Partnership.

Two years later, ICAO and Nepal announced a partnership to resolve security issues.

Although the country has improved its safety standards in recent years, problems remain.

In 2016, a Tara Air flight crashed while on the same route as the crashed aircraft on Sunday.

That incident involved a recently purchased Twin Otter aircraft that was flying in clear conditions.

In early 2018, a US-Bangla Airlines flight from Dhaka to Kathmandu crashed on landing and caught fire, killing 51 of 71 people on board.

And in May 2022, a Tara Air flight with 22 people on board crashed into a mountain at an altitude of about 14,500 feet.

Featuring CNN's Joshua Berlinger, Teele Rebane, Sugam Pokharel and Elizabeth Yee.

plane crashplane crashNepal

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2023-01-15

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