A plane making a 27-minute flight to a Nepal tourist town crashed into a gorge Sunday while attempting to land at a newly opened airport, killing at least 68 of the 72 people aboard, according to the Associated Press.
At least one witness reported hearing cries for help from within the fiery wreck, the country’s deadliest airplane accident in three decades.
Hours after dark, scores of onlookers crowded around the crash site near the airport in the resort town of Pokhara as rescue workers combed the wreckage on the edge of the cliff and in the ravine below.
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Officials suspended the search for the four missing people overnight and planned to resume looking Monday.
It was not immediately clear what caused the accident, Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority said.
A witness said he saw the aircraft spinning violently in the air after it began descending to land, watching from the terrace of his house. Finally, Gaurav Gurung told the AP, the plane fell nose-first towards its left and crashed into the gorge.
The aviation authority said the aircraft last made contact with the airport from near Seti Gorge at 10:50 a.m. before crashing.
Images and videos shared on Twitter showed plumes of smoke billowing from the crash site, about 1.6 kilometers (nearly a mile) away from Pokhara International Airport.