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Kathmandu airport closed after Malaysia jet skids off runway

Kathmandu airport was closed Friday after a Malaysian jet with 139 people on board aborted its takeoff and skidded off the runway, officials said.

Nobody was hurt in the incident but incoming flights to the Nepali capital were diverted while authorities tried to move the Malindo Airlines Boeing 737, which was stuck in mud.

It was not known how long Tribhuvan Airport, Nepal’s sole international air gateway, would be closed.

The flight by the Malaysian carrier to Kuala Lumpur was accelerating on the runway late Thursday when the pilots detected a problem and halted the takeoff, airport spokesman Prem Nath Thakur said.

Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. Nepal has a poor air safety record. Accidents are common and Nepal-based airlines are banned from flying in European Union airspace (AFP Photo/PRAKASH MATHEMA)

The jet skidded to a halt on grassland and came to a stop in mud about 100 feet (30 metres) from the runway.

“All aboard are safe,” Thakur said, adding that the cause of the problem was not immediately known.

The incident came one month after the crash of a US-Bangla Airways plane at Kathmandu airport, which killed 51 people.

In March 2015, a Turkish Airlines jet skidded off the runway as it landed, forcing Tribhuvan Airport to close for four days.

The Himalayan nation has some of the world’s most remote and tricky runways, flanked by snow-capped peaks with approaches that pose a challenge even for accomplished pilots.

Nepal has a poor air safety record. Accidents are common and Nepal-based airlines are banned from flying in European Union airspace.

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