12:00 AM, March 17, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:44 AM, March 17, 2018

Cause of Crash: US-Bangla, Tribhuvan at loggerheads

3 more survivors return home

Almun Nahar Annie, one of the survivors of the US-Bangla aircraft crash in Kathmandu, is brought to the DMCH burn unit on her return from Nepal yesterday. Annie lost her husband Priok and their only child Tamarra in the tragic accident that claimed lives of at least 28 Bangladeshis. Photo: Rajib Raihan

Tribhuvan International Airport authorities and US-Bangla Airlines are at loggerheads over what caused the crash.

The airport authorities yesterday claimed that the landing approach of the aircraft was incorrect while US-Bangla Airlines, citing an audio recording available on YouTube of the last minutes of conversation between the pilots and air traffic control, blamed the ATC.

Both, however, agreed that the actual cause of the crash would be revealed after investigation and analysis of the black box.

"We've already taken accounts of multiple eyewitnesses, examined recorded audio clips and video footage and it was apparent that the plane was tilting while it was landing. It seems to us that the landing approach of the US-Bangla Airlines plane was incorrect," TIA General Manager Raj Kumar Chhetri told this newspaper over the phone.

He quickly added that it was too early to jump to any conclusions. He also said it was too early to comment on whether the ATC was at fault.

Echoing him, US-Bangla Airlines spokesperson Kamrul Islam said, "The actual cause of the crash, whether due to a problem of the pilots' landing or mistakes of the ATC, will come out after the investigation is done."

He also said there was no shortcoming on the part of the pilot.

However, audio recording of the last minutes of conversation between the pilots of Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 and ATC suggests that there was confusion.

The black box of the aircraft has been handed over to the Nepalese investigation team and it will be sent to Bombardier, the plane manufacturer, said Raj Kumar Chhetri.

It can also be given to Bangladesh, he added.

Monday's crash in Nepal's Tribhuvan International Airport left 51 dead. It slammed on an empty field and burst into flames. At least 28 Bangladeshis were among the dead.

THREE SURVIVOURS RETURN

Three Bangladeshi survivors returned home yesterday. Three other survivors are likely to return on Sunday.

Mehedi Hasan and his wife Saiyada Kamrunnahar Shwarna and Almunnahar Annie were taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital straight from the airport.

After primary check-ups, Samanta Lal Sen, national coordinator of burn units across the country, told reporters that they were not out of danger.

“The two women suffered injuries to their inner throats caused by smoke. All of them are suffering from the trauma of the crash,” Sen said.

Doctors at DMCH said Mehedi suffered a fracture to his neck, Shwarna had injuries to her pelvis, and Annie had fractures to her left leg. Their medical examinations will complete today.

A medical board will hold a meeting on Sunday to decide the course of their treatment, Sen said.

He added the survivors would be provided with counselling.

The trio returned to Dhaka on a Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight in the afternoon, a spokesperson of the national flag carrier told The Daily Star.

Three other Bangladeshi survivors, who are likely to return on Sunday, would also be treated at DMCH.

The first Bangladeshi survivor Shahreen Ahmed came back on Thursday.

Bodies of eight Bangladeshis have been identified so far, said Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister AKM Shahjahan Kamal.

Their faces were recognisable, he told reporters at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. “We need DNA tests for identifying the rest.”

The nation on Thursday observed state mourning with due solemnity in memory of the victims of the crash.

The national flag was hoisted half-mast at all government institutions.

Bangladesh embassy in Nepal in a statement said a medical team from Bangladesh visited the survivors in hospitals there.

Forensic experts went to Teaching Medical College Hospital Mortuary to begin collection DNA samples from bodies of the victims, said the statement.

Collection of DNA samples from relatives of the deceased will start in Dhaka from Sunday at CID office.