Witnesses heard screams as doomed Nepal jet crashed | Pakistan Today

Witnesses heard screams as doomed Nepal jet crashed

The passengers on board a doomed flight that crashed on its way to Mount Everest could be heard screaming inside the cabin but rescuers were unable to get them out as flames engulfed the aircraft.
Witnesses to Friday’s crash in Kathmandu which killed 19 people, including 12 foreigners, recounted how they rushed to the scene as the Sita Air plane came down in flames in the Nepalese capital.
“We could hear people inside the aircraft screaming, but we couldn’t throw water at the plane to put out the fire because we were scared that the engines were about to explode,” said Tulasha Pokharel, one of the first on the scene.
Pokharel, a 26-year-old housewife living near the Manohara River, told AFP she was picking vegetables around daybreak when she looked up and saw an aircraft which looked like it was flying too slowly.
“There was a fire near one of its wings and the aircraft’s body was shaking. The plane moved towards the river for landing and it had almost landed at the river but it slipped off course and moved towards the land.
“At first, I was optimistic that the pilot could manage to land the aircraft on the water and hopeful that some of the passengers would survive.”
But as she realized that the plane was about to crash, she began to fear that she herself could become a victim.
“I was very scared and nervous. I thought that the plane would come towards us and hit us.”
Pokharel said she and her husband were so close they could hear people inside the aircraft screaming moments before impact.
“The pilot tried his best to make an emergency landing. If he had managed it, then we could have rescued some of the passengers,” she added.
Television reports showed other witnesses telling of the screams inside the wreckage.
Police officer Bhagwan Bhandari, one of the first rescuers to reach the site, said the scene was “terrifying”.
“There was fire coming from the aircraft. Red flames were reaching up to 20 metres (65 feet) above the ground,” Bhandari told AFP.
“It wasn’t possible to get inside to conduct rescue operations. We could hear blasts of the parts and engines of the aircraft.”
Emergency workers lined up charred bodies near the smouldering wreckage as they picked through passengers’ belongings to identify the dead, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
A crowd of thousands quickly gathered around the river bank, with many shocked bystanders clutching prayer beads and wailing in anguish as they surveyed the devastation.
The Sita Air Dornier Fairchild 228 had just taken off and was headed to the small town of Lukla, a gateway to Mount Everest, when it came down.
It was the sixth fatal air crash in Nepal in the last two years, with 95 lives lost in that period according to an AFP tally, raising fresh questions about the safety record of the country’s numerous small airlines.
Airport authorities said that the pilot told them seconds before the crash how it had hit a bird.

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