Nepal plane crashes have killed 355 foreigners in 30 years, 60 percent of total deaths

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadJan 17, 2023 | 10:46

Nepal plane crashes have killed 355 foreigners in 30 years, 60 percent of total deaths

Nepal plane crashes have claimed a number of foreigners. Photo: DailyO/Reuters

The recent Nepal plane crash of Yeti Airlines Flight YT-961 is the worst air incident in the Himalayan country in 30 years. It is also the third worst air accident in Nepal, with all 72 occupants presumed dead (some bodies were recovered; others are yet to be recovered). 

The number of casualties included 10 foreign nationals and five Indians. This brings up the question of the sheer number of foreign nationals who have died in plane crashes in Nepal. 

Yeti Airlines plane crash site in Pokhra. Photo: Reuters

Nepal is a tourist hotspot for people around the world because it's home to the eight highest peaks including the mighty Mt Everest. And there is no doubt that when a plane tragically goes down, there are always some foreign nationals always on board. 

So, we pulled up the data from the last 30 years, with the last crash dating back to 1992, also two of the deadliest ever, and this is what we found:

At least 591 

This is the number of total people who died in major plane crashes in Nepal since 1992, including the Pakistan International Airlines and Thai Airways International that took hundreds of lives.

Of these 591 casualties, 

355 were foreigners 

That makes up nearly 60% of air crash deaths. To be fair, most of the deaths were contributed to the two 1992 crashes of PIA and Thai Airways. 

60% of air crash deaths

Some of these deaths also included Indians, but this data only included those incidents where there were considerable deaths of Indian nationals. Since Indians often travel to Nepal, other Indian national casualties were excluded. 

*If we were to exclude the PIA and Thai Airways crash in 1992, then out of 311 total deaths, 135 were foreign nationals. Foreigners would make up around 44% of the total deaths going by this data.* 


Here is the data on foreign casualties in Nepal:

  • Yeti Airlines Flight YT-961 crash 2023: 10 foreign nationals (excluding Indians) 
  • Tara Air 2022 crash: 2 Germans 
  • US-Bangla Airlines crash 2018: 29 foreign nationals including Bangladeshis
  • Tara Air crash 2016: 2 foreigners 
  • Nepal Airlines crash 2014: 1 Danish national 
  • Sita Air 2012 crash: 12 foreigners  
  • Agni Air 2012 crash: 13 Indians including the Rasna girl Taruni Sachdev
  • Buddha Air 2011 crash: 13 foreigners including 10 Indians 
  • Tara Air 2010 crash: 18 passengers were said to be Bhutanese pilgrims travelling illegally as Nepal nationals to save air fare cost 
  • Agni Air crash 2010: 6 foreigners 
  • Yeti Airlines 2008 crash: 14 foreigners 
  • Shangri la Air 2002 crash: 15 foreigners
  • Pakistan International Airlines 1992 crash: 130 foreigners including Pakistanis
  • Thai Airways International 1992 crash: 90 foreigners including Thai nationals 

What do travel advisories say about travelling to Nepal? We looked at UK's travel advisory for its citizens travelling to Nepal. 

  • The UK advisory asks citizens to avoid travelling by overcrowded buses as bus accidents are common in the country.
  • This is partly due to Nepal's mountainous roads and also poor regulations. 
  • It advises citizens to take tourist buses with higher standards if required. 
  • The advisory also asks citizens to check weather conditions before travelling. 
  • As for air travel, the advisory states that airfields such as Lukla are among the most dangerous. 
Airfields such as Lukla's are among the most remote and difficult to land on in the world and are a challenge for even the most technically proficient pilots and well-maintained aircraft.
- UK travel advisory
In 2017 and 2022, an International Civil Aviation Organisation audit of aviation safety oversight found that the level of implementation of certain elements of safety oversight in Nepal were below the global average.
- UK travel advisory
  • It also mentions Sita Air being dropped by a number of tour operators for its safety concerns. In the above list of air crashes, Sita Air features only once. 

Flying in Nepal: Given Nepal's mountainous terrains, accessing several parts of the country, especially the treks and mountain peaks are difficult. It doesn't matter if it's by road or by air, there's always an element of risk involved given the unpredictable climate conditions. 

But air travel is often preferred in Nepal as it's become quite affordable and saves a lot of time.

Last updated: January 17, 2023 | 11:35
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