Turkish jetliner's crash-landing paralyzes Nepal's only international airport
KATMANDU – The Associated Press
AA PhotoThe Kathmandu Tribhuwan International Airport remained closed for a second day on March 5, after a Turkish Airlines jet skidded off the wet surface of the runway on the early hours of March 4, while officials said they aimed to reopen the airport on March 6.
Airport officials said they planned to resume international flights on the morning of March 6, as workers attempt to move the jet.
At a press conference, Ratish Chandra Lal Suman, the head of the civil aviation authority said, “Once the airport reopens, it will stay open around the clock for three days in order to ease the backlog of flights.”
Meanwhile, on March 5, Nepal asked India for help, and an Indian Air Force plane flew equipment and crew to Kathmandu.
“The Indian Air Force plane carrying equipment to clear the runway has landed in Kathmandu,” said Suman.
A 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 had said in a statement.
Sources had 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.
Following the incident, all flights to and from foreign destinations were cancelled, leaving thousands of passengers stranded. About 12,000 passengers have been affected so far due to closure, the AFP news agency reported. The nearest international airports are in neighboring India, and traveling there by road takes days.
Both Nepalese and Turkish officials said they would launch an investigation into the accident, which damaged the aircraft’s landing gear and front engines and dislodged its tires.
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.