March 13, 2018 06:30 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Mar 13: The grass on the land beside the runway of the airport was reduced to ashes.The plane was broken into pieces and burnt down. Rescuers from Nepal Army and Nepal Police were removing the remaining wreckage of US Bangla that had crashed just 30 minutes ago. Twenty-seven dead bodies were packed in yellow plastic bags one by one.
The bodies were completely charred. Ambulances were hurrying to pick the charred bodies of passengers from the crash site. The crash site was cordoned off as scores of media persons, airport staffers and other people had gathered there. Family members of the deceased and injured were waiting outside the airport premises.
When the news of the plane crash broke out, the prime minister, home minister and defense minister and chiefs of security agencies rushed to the airport to inquire about the crash.
Eyewitnesses said the plane looked out of control when it was about to touch the runway. "I felt something abnormal before the plane landed on the runway. It was already out of balance and was trying to land from the north-east instead of the general practice of landing from the southern side of the airport," said Ram Chandra Adhikari, an official of Nepal Oil Corporation, "The plane exploded like a bomb before my eyes."
According to Adhikari, when the plane crashed, only 15-20 army personnel stationed inside the airport could reach the crash site. "Then firefighters and additional security personnel came in for rescue operations. It took about half an hour for the firefighters to reach the crash site. The firefighters took 30 minutes to douse the fire."
Rescuers say some people were crying loudly inside the plane while very few managed to come out of the plane. Some passengers, according to them, managed to get out of the plane while very few were rescued alive. When the fire caught the engines, a bad smell spread across the airfield and rescuers were unable to pull out the passengers alive.
The police had rescued some passengers and others managed to jump out of the ill-fated plane before fire caught it when ambulances reached the crash site. Most of the injured passengers were taken to Kathmandu Medical College and Technical Hospital. Other injured passengers were taken to Norvic Hospital, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital and Medicity, Om Hospital and Grande Hospital for treatment.
Nepali students who were studying MBBS and officials of travel agencies who were returning to Kathmandu from Dhaka were traveling on the plane. Worried about the status of their loved ones, huge crowds gathered at the hospitals. They were busy inquiring whether their family members are admitted to the hospital or died in the accident.
Tej Prakash Shakya was one among the huge crowd gathered at the Sinamangal-based KMC Teaching Hospital. "Ashma Shakya, a daughter of my sister was coming to Kathmandu on the same plane. So, we are here to inquire about her status," said Shakya. Ashma's mother was sobbing at the hospital.
Ashma, an MBBS student in Bangladesh, was returning to Nepal on holiday. Her family was unaware of her status.