Nepal plane crash | 68 bodies recovered from crash site, say officials; five Indians among 72 onboard

January 15, 2023 08:23 pm | Updated 08:23 pm IST

Rescue teams work to retrieve bodies from the wreckage at the crash site of an aircraft carrying 72 people in Pokhara in western Nepal.

Rescue teams work to retrieve bodies from the wreckage at the crash site of an aircraft carrying 72 people in Pokhara in western Nepal. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

At least 68 people were killed after a Nepal passenger plane with 72 people onboard crashed into a river gorge on January 15 while landing at the Pokhara airport.

“So far, dead bodies of 68 people have been recovered from the crash site,” an official at the Search and Rescue Coordination Committee of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) said. However, the dead bodies are yet to be identified, he added. Efforts are on to recover four more bodies, he said.

The aircraft belonging to Yeti Airlines had four crew members and at least fifteen foreigners on board. There were five Indians among passengers in the aircraft, Nepal aviation officials told The Hindu.

Meanwhile, the Nepal government has instructed authorities to conduct a technical inspection of all domestic flights after the crash. The Cabinet meeting held in Baluwatar to assess the situation after Yeti Airlines’ 9N-ANC ATR-72 aircraft crash also formed a five-member investigation commission under the leadership of former aviation secretary Nagendra Ghimire to probe the accident.

The Indian embassy in Kathmandu has confirmed the presence of five Indians on board the crashed aircraft and put out helpline numbers for the public.

According to information put out by the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority, Sanjay Jaiswal, Sonu Jaiswal, Anil Kumar Rajbhar, Abhishek Kushwaha and Vishal Sharma were the Indian nationals on board the ill-fated flight. That apart, four Russian citizens, two Koreans, one each Australian, Argentinian, Irish and French nationals were also among the passengers.

Supreme Court to hear plea on Joshimath sinking on January 16

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on January 16 a plea seeking the court’s intervention to declare the crisis in Uttarakhand’s Joshimath as a national disaster.

According to the cause list of January 16 uploaded on the apex court website, a bench comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala would hear the petition filed by Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati.

Joshimath, the gateway to famous pilgrimage sites like Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib and international skiing destination Auli, is facing a major challenge due to land subsidence. The city is sinking gradually with huge cracks developing in houses, on roads and fields. Many houses have tilted and are sinking, locals said.

On January 10, the top court had refused urgent hearing of the plea, saying there are “democratically elected institutions” to deal with the situation and all important matters should not come to it.

The petitioner has contended that the incident has occurred due to large-scale industrialisation and sought immediate financial assistance and compensation to the people of Uttarakhand. The plea has also sought direction to the National Disaster Management Authority to actively support the residents of Joshimath in these challenging times.

Election Commission to demonstrate remote voting machine to parties on January 16

The Election Commission will showcase the remote electronic voting machine (RVM) prototype for migrant voters to representatives of political parties on January 16.

The poll panel has invited eight recognised national parties and 57 recognised State parties for a demonstration on Monday morning.

The letter stated that they have been invited for a “discussion on improving voter participation of domestic migrants using remote voting.” During the demonstration of the remote EVM, members of EC’s Technical Expert Committee will also be present.

While inviting parties for the demonstration of the prototype, the poll panel had also issued a concept note on the technology.

Parties were also asked to give in writing their views by the end of January on issues such as changes required in the law to allow use of RVM.

If implemented after stakeholder consultations, migrant voters do not need to travel to their home districts to exercise their franchise.

The multi-constituency remote EVM, developed by public sector undertaking Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL), can handle up to 72 constituencies from a single remote polling booth. ECIL and Bharat Electronics Ltd are the two PSUs manufacturing the EVMs.

Freebie is not an issue, issue is how will you give it: Nirmala Sitharaman

Responding to a question on freebies, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was participating in the 75th year celebrations of Panchjanya, an RSS linked magazine, said that freebies is something that everyone is talking about these days and everyone traps others on the same subject.

“People try to trap each other by talking about freebie. They keep judging what item is a freebie and which is not. Issue is not that what is a freebie? Issue is whether you will be able to give that freebie or not,” the Minister said.

She added that mostly people make promises during election but after seeing the budget of their states after coming to power, they realise that its not possible.

“When someone realise that they can give the freebie. They must show the same in budget. Get the budget scrutinise in the end of the year. If the accounts and budget is cleat, it’s not a freebie,” she said.

Attacking on states, especially on Aam Aadmi Party run Delhi government that give free power to residents upto a certain limit, the Finance Minister said that most of the states do give freebies to their people but don’t show the same in the budget.

“They just leave it on Modi ji to manage what they had spent. If you had sought votes in the name of freebie, how come the burden has to manage by centre,” she added.

In most of the distribution companies (DISCOMs), working in the states, are not being paid by the government on time, the minister alleged.

“As the payments of discoms remain pending from states, then these discoms don’t pay to the power generating company. So this pending payments at the level of discoms and generating companies are being accumulated. So no one now is ready for the this free power distribution and this is the pain,” she added.

Taking a dig at Congress, she further said, “Banks have a major contribution in India’s economy. Modi government thinks that banks should be given full freedom to run.”

The previous governments, who rule the country, use to take benefits from the banks which can be distributed among their relatives and party workers, she added.

She further added that the Modi government has been working on ‘4 Rs’ to reduce NPAs and improve the health of Public Sector Banks. The four Rs are Recognise the problem, Resolve the problem, Recapitalise the banks and Reform the banks.

BJP governments never imposed any ban on media organisations: Rajnath Singh

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the BJP government has never curtailed the media in any manner. Attacking Congress, he said that history is full of violations of freedom under Congress governments. He was speaking during the 75th-year celebrations of Panchjanya, an RSS linked magazine in Delhi.

“There is a continuing debate in the country that is regarding the freedom of expression. The interesting thing is that those who allege violation of media freedom today forget that whether it is Atalji’s government or Modiji’s government, they have never imposed any ban on any media house, nor had curtailed in any manner anyone’s right to free speech and express,” Singh said.

He added that the Congress government even amended the constitution to curb free speech. The entire history of the Congress Party is replete with incidents of violation of all kinds of freedoms.

The Defence Minister said that with the enactment of the Indian Constitution on 26 January 1950, constitution makers ensured freedom of expression for every Indian citizen in Article 19 of the Indian constitution. “But to curb and crush the nationalist ideology, the then rulers amended the Indian Constitution and put restrictions on it,” he added.

Questioning the need of making amendments in the constitution, Singh said that in 1951, that is, just a year after the adoption of the constitution, it was amended.

“The reason was very clear. The Congress party, which was ruling the entire country at that time, was averse to any kind of opposition. Everyone has the right to protest in a democracy. But the Congress was so eager to stifle any kind of criticism that it changed the constitution itself,” he added.

India expected to send ‘positive’ message on debt during Jaishankar’s visit to Sri Lanka

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s visit to Colombo on Thursday will focus on “supporting Sri Lanka” in its current economic crisis, government sources said, adding that talks are ongoing in the field of energy security, food security, currency swap arrangements as well as talks about restructuring Sri Lanka’s debt. The two-day visit is expected to see some announcements.

“India is expected to give a positive response to Sri Lanka’s requirements, in keeping with India’s support last year as well,” said a source, citing India’s combined package of about $4 billion including loans, credit lines for the purchase of essentials and a loan deferment through the Asian Clearing Union.

In addition, talks are expected on two possible MoUs— on the Trincomalee development project and the long-pending plan for a cross-strait transmission line that would allow Sri Lanka access to India’s plans for an energy grid along with other countries like Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

The sources stressed that while assisting Sri Lanka with its current economic difficulties is a priority, Jaishankar’s visit, his first with the six-month-old government in Colombo, would see a comprehensive review of bilateral ties.

Meanwhile, diplomatic sources said that the support, in the form of “written financial assurances” from India would be critical for Sri Lanka as it works with its other creditors to resolve the economic crisis.

In Brief:

A demonstrator reacts before security forces as people protest demanding the dissolution of Congress and democratic elections, in rejection of Dina Boluarte as Peru’s president, after the ouster of leftist President Pedro Castillo, in Lima, Peru.

A demonstrator reacts before security forces as people protest demanding the dissolution of Congress and democratic elections, in rejection of Dina Boluarte as Peru’s president, after the ouster of leftist President Pedro Castillo, in Lima, Peru. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Peru’s government late on January 14 declared a state of emergency in the capital Lima and three other regions due to protests against President Dina Boluarte that have claimed at least 42 lives in recent weeks. The measure, in force for 30 days, authorises the army to intervene to maintain order and suspends several constitutional rights such as freedom of movement and assembly, according to a decree published in the official gazette. In addition to the capital, the state of emergency covers the regions of Cusco and Puno and the port of Callao, adjacent to Lima. Authorities have, however, reopened Cusco international airport, which is vital to Peru’s tourism sector.

Evening Wrap will return tomorrow.

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