The toll in Nepal's worst aviation disaster rose to 51 today with the death of two more passengers, as Bangladeshi experts joined the probe amid reports of an apparent confusion between the pilot and air traffic control over the runway.
The Dhaka to Kathmandu US-Bangla Airlines flight, with 67 passengers and four crew members on board, caught fire after it careened off the runway and ploughed into a football ground near the Tribhuvan International Airport yesterday.
Meanwhile, a Bangladeshi delegation today joined a six-member Nepali committee to probe the crash-landing. The Bangla delegation includes Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism A K M Shahjahan Kamal, Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and senior aviation officials, the report said.
The last four minutes of the conversation between the pilot and Air Traffic Control at the airport indicates a possible confusion in the mind of the pilot about Runway 02 (the southern end) and Runway 20 (the northern end), a Nepalese newspaper reported.
At the very outset of the tape, the control tower was heard warning the pilot, "I say again, do not proceed towards Runway 20." And later, he is warned to remain on hold and not to land because there is another aircraft on approach.
The latter responds and says "We would like to land on 20"; he is cleared to land on that end of the runway, the report said.
There is silence for a while, then a 'Fire One' calls the tower, indicating that a crash has occurred and the airport fire tender has been activated.
There were 33 Nepalese nationals on board flight UBG 211, a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400. Others include 32 Bangladeshis, one Chinese and one Maldivian.
Bombardier is a twin-engine, medium-range and turboprop aircraft.
Canadian plane maker Bombardier said it was sending an air safety investigator to the site, as well as a field service representative.
The Dhaka-based US-Bangla Airlines is a private carrier that launched in July 2014 with the motto "Fly Fast Fly Safe". The airlines is a unit of the US-Bangla Group, a US Bangladeshi joint venture company.
Nepal has witnessed a number of accidents involving aircraft in recent years.
Yesterday's accident is deadliest since September 1992 when all 167 people aboard a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane were killed when it crashed near the Kathmandu airport.
In February, 2016, Tara Air's Twin Otter 400 crashed in Rupse of Myagdi, killing 23 people.
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