Rescuers battle to reach Thai plane wreckage

A THAI international flight from Bangkok to Kathmandu with 99 passengers and 14 crew on board crashed yesterday in Nepal. Rescuers were last night trying to reach the wreckage 8,500ft up a heavily forested steep mountainside in the foothills of the Himalayas but there were not expected to be any survivors.

Accounts differed last night between the airline and Kathmandu airport staff on events leading up to the crash. A spokesperson for Thai International in Bangkok said that flight TC311, an Airbus A310-300, had left Bangkok's Don Muang airport at about llam local time. About 20 minutes before the scheduled landing in Kathmandu, after being given clearance to land, the aircraft's captain decided instead to take the Airbus back up to 'Point Romeo', a flight position 41 nautical miles from the airport, said the statement. There was no further contact with the aeroplane.

According to Thai International, there was only slight wind and showers, visibility of three miles, and scattered clouds.

In Nepal, the Kathmandu air traffic controllers told Reuters they had instructed the pilots to divert the flight because visibility in torrential monsoon rains was too poor for landing. The pilots were told to take a south-western course towards India.

Meanwhile, Indian air traffic control in Calcutta said the aeroplane disappeared from their radar screens about 14 nautical miles from Kathmandu as it was descending to land.

The Airbus wreckage was spotted several hours after losing contact, on a mountainside between the Nepalese districts of Palung and Shivabhanjyang, about 60 miles to the south of Kathmandu.

The approach to Katmandu airport, which is situated in a valley surrounded by mountain peaks, offers some spectacular Himalayan views but can also be treacherous in bad weather as pilots spiral in to make their descent.

Two Britons were among the 99 passengers. The Bangkok to Kathmandu flight is a popular route for round-the-world travellers and those on board included Nepalese, Japanese, Americans, Belgians, Israelis, Germans, Spanish and six other nationalities.

For Thai International, the crash could not come at a worse time. Its chairman, Air Chief Marshal Kaset Rojananin, is about to be forced out as part of efforts by Thailand's interim government to reduce the military's hold in business; tourist traffic to Thailand is still suffering from the fall-out of May's bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters; and Thai International's newly floated shares have been falling in the stock market.

Within two hours of the Thai plan crash yesterday, a Chinese Yak-42 airliner exploded in flames while taking off from the Nanjing airport, killing at least 100 people and injuring 26, the state- run Xinhua News Agency said.

The plane was carrying 116 passengers and 10 crew members, and efforts to rescue the injured were still under way last night.

The Soviet-designed plane, headed from the eastern city of Nanjing to Xiamen, on China's south-east coast, crashed at 3.10pm local time, Xinhua said. It said the plane 'failed to lift off and burst into a ball of flames' about 600 yards from the runway.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before