Nepal airport closes briefly after powerful aftershock

Nepal airport closes briefly after powerful aftershock
Tourists gather inside Nepal's Tribhuvan International Airport a day after an earthquake, in Kathmandu, Nepal April 26, 2015.

KATHMANDU - Nepal's international airport briefly shutdown on Sunday when a powerful aftershock hit the capital Kathmandu, forcing planes to turn around midflight, officials and reports said.

India's budget SpiceJet said it was forced to recall its plane to New Delhi after the air traffic control centre at Kathmandu's airport was evacuated when the 6.7-magnitude aftershock struck.

"Our flight was asked to return from near the Indo-Nepal border as the ATC (air traffic control) in Kathmandu was evacuated following a strong aftershock around noon," SpiceJet spokesman Ajay Jasra said.

Two Air India flights, carrying 135 and 45 passengers were also turned back after the evacuation on the ground, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

A Dragonair flight from Hong Kong finally landed after circling in a holding pattern for 90 minutes, FlightRadar24 website said.

Tribhuvan International Airport general manager Birendra Prasad Shrestha said the runway had reopened after being closed for about an hour.

"The airport is open and functioning. We had closed the runway for an hour after the quake this afternoon, but we have resumed services," Shrestha told AFP.

The shutdown highlights the difficulty facing Nepal's authorities who are struggling to rescue and treat thousands of people in the capital which has been left devastated by Saturday's powerful earthquake.

As well as killing more than 2,000 people nationwide, the quake toppled whole buildings and ripped apart roads and other infrastructure, cutting off electricity and communication networks.

 

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