Nepal: A country with unenviable record of air accidents

Mountainous Nepal has one of the world’s poorest air safety records, and yesterday’s crash is the second this year.

Four months ago, 15 people died when an Agni Air plane carrying Indian pilgrims to a Hindu religious site in northern Nepal crashed at a high-altitude airport.

Last September, a plane on a mountain sight-seeing flight crashed into a hillside near Kathmandu, killing all 19 people on board.

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Since 1949 – the year the first aircraft landed in Nepal – there have been more than 70 crashes involving planes and helicopters, in which more than 650 people have been killed.

While the latest crash appears in part due to exceptional circumstances, critics say passenger aircraft in Nepal are often poorly maintained, one of the main reasons for so many crashes.

Some commentators say there is another serious malaise in Nepali aviation – a regulatory body that has consistently failed to prevent airline operators cutting corners on safety in what is a competitive market.