Nepal probes airport fire that halted flights

Nepal probes airport fire that halted flights

08 February 2012

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Nepal — Kathmandu: Nepal on Wednesday instituted a high-level committee to probe a fire breakout that brought the country’s only international airport to a halt for hours.

The incident occurred yesterday evening in the eastern part of the Tribhuvan International Airport here when the grassland fire that started in the nearby bushes threatened a runway.

All the fire brigades of Kathmandu along with hundreds of security personnel had to be mobilised to contain the fire, which the airport’s terminal buildings narrowly escaped. It took two and a half hours for half a dozen fire brigades of Kathmandu to put off the blaze.

The Tourism and Civil Aviation Ministry of Nepal today formed a three-member probe committee to investigate the incident.

The committee is headed by Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Lokendra Bahadur Chhetri.

The committee has on it Home Ministry Undersecretary Bal Krishna Panthi and Deputy Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Krishna Bahadur Thapa, according to officials.

The committee has been asked to submit its report within three days.

The fire started from the bushes near the Pepsicola Town Planning, adjoining the eastern side of the airport, and disrupted about half a dozen national and international flights for three hours.

Some of the flights were diverted to Delhi, as the fire brought the airport to a halt for hours.

The cause of the fire is not known yet. It took more than two hours for six fire brigade vehicles and hundreds of security officials to extinguish the fire on the grassy field on the eastern side of the runway.

There was no human casualty or damage of property but the incident raised serious security concerns at the country’s only international airport.

In in June 2011, regular flights had to be delayed and diverted for hours when several cracks appeared in the 3,050 metre runway.

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