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Passenger plane crashes, catches fire at Kathmandu airport

Updated

By the Associated Press

A passenger plane swerved, crashed and burst into flames as it landed Monday at Kathmandu airport in Nepal, a witness said.

Nepalese rescuers stand near a passenger plane from Bangladesh that crashed at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday, March 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shreshta/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Nepalese rescuers stand near a passenger plane from Bangladesh that crashed at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday, March 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shreshta/ MANILA BULLETIN)

It was unclear if there were any fatalities, though an AP journalist saw the US-Bangla Airlines plane broken into several pieces, with dozens of firefighters and rescue workers clustered around the wreckage. There were no immediate signs of injured people or bodies being taken away.

Amanda Summers, an American who works in Nepal, watched the crash happen from the terrace of her home office.

“It was flying so low I thought it was going to run into the mountains,” she said. She said it was unclear if it had reached the runway when it landed. “All of a sudden there was a blast and then another blast,” she said.

Fire crews put out the flames very quickly, perhaps within a minute, she said, though clouds of thick, dark smoke rose into the sky above Kathmandu, the capital of the Himalayan nation.

The flight was arriving from Bangladesh, said an airport official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of airport policy.

An employee who answered the phone at the US-Bangla offices in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, said no one was available to talk.

“I have no other details,” said the employee, who refused to give his name. “But a bad incident has happened.”

US-Bangla Airlines operates Boeing 737-800 and smaller Bombardier Dash 8 Q-400 planes.

The airline, part of US-Bangla Group, is based in Dhaka and flies to several domestic and international destinations.

The parent company operates in a number of industries, including real estate, education and agriculture.

Kathmandu’s airport has been the site of several deadly crashes. In September 2012, a Sita Air turboprop plane carrying trekkers to Mount Everest hit a bird and crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 19 on board.

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