Turkish Airlines plane skids off Nepal runway
KATMANDU - Agence France-Presse
DHA PhotoA Turkish Airlines plane carrying 224 passengers had to be evacuated after it missed the runway on landing at Kathmandu airport on March 4 and skidded onto nearby grassland.
"All passengers and the crew were rescued and transferred to the terminal building. One passenger was slightly injured and transferred to the hospital for treatment," Turkish Airlines said in a statement.
Sources told Anadolu Agency that the TK 726 flight from Istanbul to Kathmandu, carrying 224 passengers and 11 crew members, was not able to land properly because of heavy rain.
One witness described Agence France-Presse how terrified passengers leapt from their seats as the cabin filled with smoke after the plane skidded to a halt.
The airport has now been closed except to helicopters, spokesman Purna Prasad Chudal told AFP, adding that visibility was reasonable despite fog earlier in the day.
Chudal said the pilot overshot the runway during an initial attempt to land, before making a second try that sent the plane skidding off the tarmac.
"As the plane approached, it somehow missed the runway and ended up in the grassland area," said the airport's general manager Birendra Prasad Shrestha.
Dikesh Malhotra, who was returning from a business trip, said the impact of the landing caused bags to fall on terrified passengers, who clutched their seats, anxiously waiting for the plane to stop moving.
"We could feel the tyres skid... I could see an air hostess from my seat, she had tears in her eyes," Malhotra, 28, told AFP.
When the plane stopped, smoke filled the cabin, making it difficult to breathe, he said.
"Everyone got up and started shouting to open the door... finally they announced evacuation... we were so relieved," he said.
"The plane had permission to land and while conditions were foggy earlier, visibility was ok," Chudal told AFP.
"We are not sure how this happened."
The Himalayan nation is home to some of the world's most remote and tricky runways, flanked by snow-capped peaks and terrain that poses a challenge even for accomplished pilots.
A string of crashes as well as the European Union's decision to blacklist all Nepalese airlines prompted government officials last year to announce plans to install new radar and weather monitoring systems which would provide real-time updates.
In the most recent accident last February, a Nepal Airlines plane slammed into a hillside in the country's western region during heavy rain, killing all 18 people on board.