The death of scores of people in a plane crash at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport on Monday leaves all of us traumatized. When the aircraft of US-Bangla Airlines came crashing down, it was not only Bangladeshis but people from other nationalities, including a team of young Nepalis who had only recently completed their medical education in Bangladesh, who lost their lives as well. In these days of relatively safe air journeys, it was a shock to discover the gruesome reality of the aircraft actually falling from the sky and bringing lives to a sudden end.
The disaster in Kathmandu was a tragedy. What makes this tragedy worse is that the US-Bangla aircraft crashed when it was only two minutes away from landing. Reports of what went wrong or who might have been at fault have been doing the rounds since the occurrence.
The authorities of US-Bangla Airlines here in Dhaka have been quick to point the finger at the air traffic controllers at Tribhuvan airport. Other reports have indicated that errors were made by the captain of the aircraft regarding the exact place where he was supposed to have the plane land.
The final minute or so of a conversation between the control tower and the pilot certainly raises some very serious questions about the reasons behind the aircraft crashing and going up in smoke. What is called for here is a swift and thorough investigation into the entire sad episode rather than a flurry of statements coming forth, without proper inquiry or verification, about what might have gone wrong.
One needs to know if the aircraft itself was in healthy condition. And could the captain have made a mistake in understanding the messages from the control tower? Or is it a fact that the control tower gave out mixed messages to the pilot in the seconds before the plane went down?
These are questions which call for quick answers. The authorities of US-Bangla owe it to themselves, to the families of the air crash victims and to the country to come up with credible explanations of what went wrong in Kathmandu. For US-Bangla to blame air traffic control at Tribhuvan seems a little premature.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families of those who have perished in Kathmandu. For those who have survived the disaster, our prayers are there for their speedy recovery and return to normal life. This tragedy, we expect, will reassert the need for more effective, indeed foolproof security for airlines and their passengers.
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