India helps clear blocked Kathmandu airport

Mumbai: India on Thursday helped clear the runway at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport which was blocked by a foreign aircraft following a crash-landing accident on Wednesday, an official statement said here.

Turkish Airlines flight THY-726 operated by an Airbus A-330, coming from Istanbul, overshot the runway and got stuck in the soft mud following inclement weather conditions on Wednesday.

All the 238 passengers and crew aboard escaped unhurt, but the aircraft blocked the main runway at the airport, reducing its usable length to 5,000 feet and making it impossible for any commercial aircraft to land.

The Indian Air Force received a request for help from Nepal around 7 p.m. on Wednesday following which it immediately activated the Hindon-based C-130J Super Hercules transport unit for the operation.

The C-130J was chosen for the mission not only because of its load carrying capacity and range but also because of its capability to land on restricted surfaces.

On Thursday morning, an accident recovery kit, comprising a crane weighing 7.5 tonnes, was airlifted from Mumbai and loaded onto the waiting C-130J aircraft, while a technical crew of Air India went from Mumbai in a separate flight.

The entire customs and immigration formalities of these 11 technical personnel was organised by the IAF at Delhi’s Palam airport around 11 a.m. on Thursday.

The C-130J aircraft later took off for Kathmandu.

The operations to remove the stranded aircraft, weighing around 250,000 kg, from the Kathmandu airport, are currently reported to be progressing.

The operation was described as “a fanstastic display of coordination and synchronization between the IAF, ministry of defence and Directorate General of Civil Aviation” to help a friendly foreign nation in distress.