Foreign nationals are among the 40 people who lost their lives in the plane crash in Nepal.

Rescuers gather at crash site in Pokhara - AFP

Rescuers gather at crash site in Pokhara – AFP

Foreign nationals are among at least 40 people after a plane crashed on a route popular with tourists trekking in the Himalayas in central Nepal on Sunday morning.

A video shared on social media made a sharp turn at low altitude on the Yeti Airlines plane, which was flying from Kathmandu to the city of Pokhara, with 72 people on board.

Later footage showed burning debris and smoke rising from the crash site, located on a slope in the valley of the newly opened Seti River from Pokhara International Airport.

An army spokesman said they “expect to find more bodies” as rescue operations continue, and Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal urged the public to assist the relief effort.

Of the 68 passengers and four crew members on board, 53 are said to be Nepalese and include five Indians, four Russians, two Koreans and 15 foreign nationals, one each from Ireland, Australia, Argentina and France. It is not yet known whether there were British victims.

Rescuers work to retrieve bodies from the crash site of a plane carrying 72 people in Pokhara

Rescuers work to retrieve bodies from the crash site of a plane carrying 72 people in Pokhara

Pokhara International Airport, which became operational on January 1, is the country’s third international airport as it aims to stimulate trade and tourism.

In 2022, more than 600,000 tourists visited Nepal to seek adventure in the vast Himalayan mountain range and experience its magnificent cities.

Many will take the 30-minute flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara, the latter the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, a popular Himalayan hiking trail, as well as a hub for extreme sports like paragliding and bungee jumping.

“The weather was clear” and the direct cause of the crash is unknown, said Jagannath Niroula, spokesman for Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority.

Nepal has one of the worst aircraft safety records in the world, and fatal crashes are commonplace in 2013 when the European Commission imposed a comprehensive ban on Nepalese airlines entering European airspace.

The ban came after a twin-engine Sita Air plane crashed outside Kathmandu in 2012 killing everyone on board, including seven Britons.

A Yeti Airlines ATR 72-500 aircraft

A Yeti Airlines ATR 72-500 aircraft

There have been at least 27 plane crashes in Nepal over the past three decades, of which 20 have occurred in the last ten years.

In May 2022, a Tara Air plane crashed in Nepal’s mountainous Mustang region, killing all 22 passengers on board, including German and Indian tourists.

Flying in Nepal is particularly dangerous because in the Himalayas the weather can change abruptly causing poor visibility, there is a shortage of new aircraft, and maintenance of existing aircraft and airstrips is often located in mountainous areas that are difficult to reach.

However, the country has a poor road network and thus Nepalis and tourists alike have to rely on airplanes to travel around the remote Himalayan nation.

Tenzing-Hillary Airport, located in the northeastern town of Lukla, an entry point for those who have climbed Mount Everest, is considered the most dangerous airport in the world.

Surrounded by the Himalayas, meaning that landings must be guided by the pilot’s view, it also has one of the shortest runways in the world that ends in a steep, vertical drop.

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