Setopati, 12 March
Sanam Shakya of Lucky Travels speaking to Chetana Guragain:
I was among 12 travel agents returning from a Fam Trip to Dhaka, and boarded the US Bangla plane at 12:30 pm. The plane was full, and I was seated in the front. There were Nepali MBBS students at the back returning to Nepal. There must have been around 30 Nepalis and as many Bangladeshis on board.
We were all excited about flying back to Nepal, even though the mountains were not visible. Passengers were taking pictures through the right side windows. The plane circled probably due to air traffic. I have been flying into Kathmandu often, but I had never seen the mountains so close.
Even before the plane landed on the runway it was shuddering in an unusual way. The plane impacted the ground with such force it felt like we had hit a mountain. It skidded and hit an obstacle. There were cries, passengers fell off their chairs, others were trapped in their seats and baggages fell from the overhead lockers.
We realised that the plane had made an emergency landing away from the runway. The only challenge was how to get out. We tried to get up from where we were trapped, but couldn’t. Then the back of the plane caught fire and smoke started billowing out. There was frightened screaming.
We knew that if we didn’t get out we would be burnt alive. We managed to extricate ourselves. Passengers ahead of us got out, and we followed them. We could not rescue the others in time, some had their hands and legs trapped. By then the fire was so intense we couldn’t go near. I don’t remember much after that. Now I am at Norvic, around three of our group members were killed. I am frightened thinking how close I was to dying in the plane. This is probably what they mean by being lucky.