Dhaka sent a team of doctors and investigators to Kathmandu to provide treatment to the injured passengers and identify the bodies of Bangladesh nationals killed in the US-Bangla Plane crash.
The doctors returned home a few days before officials of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) came back on March 22 after completing their assignments.
Forty-nine people were killed as the aircraft crashed and burst into flames at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu on March 12.
The plane was carrying 71 people, including four cabin crew members. 36 were from Bangladesh, 33 from Nepal, and one each from China and the Maldives.
26 Bangladeshis, 22 Nepalis, and one Chinese were among the dead. The bodies were already handed over to their relatives after completion of their identification process and necessary formalities.
The Dhaka Tribune correspondent interviewed CID Asst DNA Analyst Ashraful Alam Ashraf, Associate Prof Lutfar Kader Lenin of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, and Prof Dr Tulsi Kandel of forensic medicine at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Nepal in connection with the rescue and identification process.
Ashraf said: “It’s quite normal that our country would engage in such a rescue operation as there were Bangladeshis among the victims.
“Our tasks were to oversee how the operation is going and to find out whether there is any flaw in the operation and give advice accordingly. Also, there were issues of state interest, which we could take care of as we were present on the ground.”
He further said: “We could understand everything very closely as our technical team maintained direct contact with Nepal’s team. As a result, we could give regular updates about the operation to our authorities and the relatives of Bangladeshi victims.
“The entire process got momentum as we were present there.”
The CID official added: “We would have depended on the Nepal government had our team not been involved in the operation, and the process could have been delayed.
“It’s not that we were unhappy with their [the Nepal government] tasks. They and their doctors are very much cordial and experienced. Some 71 plane crashes have taken place at the airport in the last 20-30 years. There are some highly experienced forensics experts in the country.”
Ashraf, however, added that they would not have felt pressure to expedite the process had the Bangladeshi team not engaged in the operation.
“The Bangladesh embassy in Kathmandu, too, efficiently dealt with the issue... Overall, we witnessed very good teamwork,” he said.
Echoing Ashraf, Dr Lutfar said that sending the Bangladesh team to Nepal was a rational decision.
“Everything was done very precisely as our team was present on the ground. We, led by Bangladesh Ambassador Mashfee Binte Shams, could identify the dead bodies and ensure proper treatment of the injured.”
Hailing Bangladesh’s decision for sending its team, Dr Tulsi said: “We did not have to face any problem with the operation because of good suggestions and cooperation from the stakeholders.”
Kamrul Islam, general manager (marketing support and public relations) of US-Bangla Airlines, said civil aviation authorities of Bangladesh and Nepal, Canada-based aerospace and transportation company Bombardier, and the International Civil Aviation Organization are jointly probing the incident.
“The investigation team will prepare a report based on data collected from the Flight recorder, and the entire process will take a considerable amount of time,” he added.