KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) – Authorities in Nepal have rejected claims they were to blame for confusion before a deadly plane crash at Kathmandu’s airport.
At least 49 people were killed after a flight with US-Bangla Airlines, a privately-owned Bangladeshi carrier, approached the runway from the wrong direction, crashed and burst into flames.
The airline’s chief executive officer, Imran Asif, appeared to blame air traffic controllers for the crash, saying they gave out the “wrong signals.”
Raj Kumar Chhetri, the General Manager for Tribhuvan International Airport, denied a lack of competence on Nepal’s side, telling CNN: “We strictly condemn the comments from the Bangladeshi authorities that Nepal’s airport control gave wrong signals.”
The plane was cleared to land from the southern side of the runway but instead landed from the northern side, he said.
“Our airport control staff are internationally-trained. We had over-communicated everything to the pilots. We repeatedly asked the pilots to land from the correct side of the runway,” Chhetri added.
The crash has turned a spotlight on Nepal’s air safety record. Before Monday’s crash, 44 people died in four incidents in the past five years, according to data compiled by the Aviation Safety Network.