Nepal plane crash: Eyewitnesses recount lucky escape

Kalpana Sunar
Kalpana Sunar. Photo courtesy: The Kathmandu Post

Kalpana Sunar had come to Pokhara from Dulegaunda in Tanahun to celebrate Maghe Sankranti three days ago. She was washing clothes in the front yard of her house when she saw an aeroplane falling from the sky and coming in her direction.

"The aircraft was tilted in an unusual angle and moments later, I heard a bomb-like explosion," said Sunar, an eyewitness to the Yeti Airlines plane crash in that occurred in Pokhara of Nepal on Sunday morning. "Then I saw a plume of black smoke billowing from the Seti gorge."

The aircraft crashed at Gharipatan in Pokhara Metropolitan City-7 at around 11 am and one of the plane's wings hit the ground about 12 metres from the house of local resident Geeta Sunar.

The front part of the aircraft ricocheted off the Seti gorge and fell at Naya Gaun in Pokhara-15, while the rear part fell into the gorge.

"Had the aircraft fallen just a bit closer to our home, the settlements would have been destroyed," said Geeta, who had a miraculous escape. "There was so much damage at the incident site, but since it happened away from the settlement, there were no casualties or any damage to the settlements."

As it was Maghe Sankranti, Geeta had gone to the temple in the morning and had returned home to eat after offering her prayers.

After she heard an explosion, Geeta went out and saw that the plane had already crashed.

"There was a fire on both sides of the Seti gorge. The bodies were scattered everywhere," said Geeta. "Parts of the aircraft and small bags of the passengers were strewn all over the place where the plane first hit the ground."

Geeta said that children who were playing in the streets heard the sound of crying from inside the aircraft.

Children in the area who witnessed the incident said that the aircraft was spiralling as it plummeted from the sky and that they could hear passengers screaming from inside the aircraft.

Samir and Prajwal Pariyar, both 11-year-olds, said that they were playing when they saw the aircraft spiralling and falling down. They initially thought that it was a toy, but when the aircraft came close, they ran away.

"Suddenly, there was darkness all around due to the smoke," said Samir. "It looked like the aircraft's tyre would touch us as it fell."

Bainsha Bahadur BK, a local from the same area, said that if the aircraft had come straight, it would have crash landed into the settlements and caused more damage. "Around seven or eight windows of the aircraft were still intact and we thought that the passengers might still be alive," said BK. "But the fire spread across the other half of the plane in an instant, as we watched in horror."

Copyright: The Kathmandu Post/Asia News Network