Nepal has the worst flight record with 15 air crashes in 20 years and 315 dead

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadJan 16, 2023 | 11:01

Nepal has the worst flight record with 15 air crashes in 20 years and 315 dead

Nepal plane crash kills at least 68 people. Photo: Reuters

Seventy-two people were on their way to Pokhara, a tourist town in Nepal. Some were on a holiday, some were infants, and some were locals. A co-pilot was seconds away from achieving her goal of becoming a Captain. But it took less than a minute for all that to turn into flames and smoke as the plane carrying them crashed just seconds before landing. 


On Sunday, January  15, a 72-seater Yeti Airlines plane that took off from Kathmandu crashed into a gorge 10 seconds before landing in Pokhara. 

A purported video seconds before the crash is going viral on Facebook. Reportedly, one of the Indian victims, Sonu Jaiswal, took a Facebook LIVE video of the landing which shows the crash taking place unexpectedly. 


DailyO couldn't immediately verify the authenticity of the video.

Local residents and witnesses rushed to the crash site to help, but the place was engulfed in flames. Some said they heard cries of help but the smoke was so thick and the flames so hot, they weren't able to get close to rescue whoever was alive from the pile of crash.  

We haven't rescued anyone alive from the crash site.
- Nepal Army Spokesperson Krishna Prasad Bhandari

So far, at least 68 of those on board have been confirmed dead including five Indians. Rescue operations resumed on Monday.

Another video taken from the terrace of a nearby house, shows the plane tilting dangerously before the crash. DailyO cannot immediately verify the authenticity of the video.


The Yeti Airlines flight YT691 crash is the worst plane crash in Nepal in 30 years. The last plane crash with more casualties than the current one was in 1992. It is also the third worst plane crash in Nepal ever reported. 

Here's what is known about the ill-fated aircraft: 

  • 10.33 am on Jan 15: The plane took off from Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu for Pokhara. 
  • 27 minutes: Duration of the flight. 
  • 18 minutes: Into the journey when the flight lost contact with control tower
  • 10.50 am: The flight made the last contact, took permission for landing and a nod was given
  • The plane crashed into a gorge on the banks of Seti Gandaki river that flows between the old domestic airport and Pokhra International Airport.
  • The flight was on its third trip between Kathmandu-Pokhara-Kathmandu when it crashed. 
  • The Pokhara International Airport was inaugurated on January 1, 2023.
  • Cause of crash: Reason is still unknown 
  • Reportedly, the aircraft was equipped with an old transponder with unreliable data. However, this is only useful to send data to the ATC in cases of a collision with another aircraft. 

A list of other worse plane crashes in Nepal:

Why did the plane crash? Nepal is infamous for a long list of aviation accidents. The mountainous terrain, unpredictable weather and poor regulations are all some of the reasons for the Himalayan country's list of plane crashes. 

  • Only last year in May, a Tara Air flight carrying 22 people crashed in the country. Tara Air is a subsidiary of Yeti Airlines. The flight was flying from Pokhra when it crashed. 

There are several questions that crop up in the recent plane crash. We try to answer some of these: 

Did the make and age of the aircraft have anything to do with the crash? 

  • Yeti Airlines has a fleet of six of twin-engine ATR 72-500 aircraft.
  • The crashed plane was reportedly 15 years old.
  • It is manufactured by ATR, a joint partnership between Airbus and Italy's Leonardo.
  • The aircraft is used often in the Asia-Pacific region by low-cost carriers.
  • ATR 72-500 aircraft have been involved in 12 plane crashes across the world so far, including the Pokhara crash. 
  • While 15-year-old aircraft aren't considered dangerous for flying, planes over the age of 11 need more maintenance and Nepal has a poor track record of the same. 

Was the crash due to Nepal's lack of regulations? The EU has banned Nepal airlines from its airspace for not meeting training and maintenance standards. 

  • In view of the rising safety concerns, the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN body, and Nepal announced a partnership to resolve aviation safety concerns in 2017.

What does Nepal's terrain have to do? Nepal's remote runways and difficult terrain make flying difficult even for experienced pilots. 

  • Lukla, often called the world's most dangerous airport and a getaway to Mt Everest, is also in Nepal. 
  • According to the CAA of Nepal, the top five most dangerous airports can be named as Lukla, Jomsom, Simikot, Jumla and Dolpa.
  • The weather conditions here can change suddenly usually making landing or taking off quite dangerous.
  • In the case of Yeti Airlines, going by the video going viral of the plane tilting, some reports said that it may have been due to the aircraft stalling and crashing while landing.
  • A stall can happen if there is wind shear, when the winds suddenly reverse direction, often in case of thunderstorms. This can affect the aircraft when it has reduced speed while landing.
  • Or the flight may have been affected by a rotor, a sideways whirlwind generated above the ground, which resulted in the flight stalling. 
Last updated: January 16, 2023 | 16:53
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