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More People Died in Plane Crashes in 2020 Than in 2019

More than half of the 2020 deaths are from a crash in January
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2021 2:30 PM CST
More People Died in Plane Crashes in 2020 Than in 2019
Rescue workers recover the bodies of victims of a Ukrainian plane crash in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran.   (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

(Newser) – With the number of flights sharply reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic, there were fewer commercial airplane crashes in 2020, the Guardian reports. But the number of people who were killed in crashes last year increased. Data from Dutch consulting firm To70 reveal that there were 40 accidents involving passenger planes in 2020. Of those, five involved fatalities for a total of 299 deaths. In 2019, there were 86 accidents, of which eight involved fatalities for a total 257 deaths. Of the 2020 deaths, more than half—176—are connected to the Ukrainian airliner that was shot down by Iranian forces in January, per the BBC.

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The second deadliest incident happened in May when a Pakistan International Airlines flight crashed in Karachi, killing 98 people. Overall, commercial aviation deaths have decreased dramatically since the start of this century, Reuters reports. In 2005, for instance, there were 1,015 deaths worldwide. To70 says the fatal accident rate for 2020 is “similar to the average for the last 10 years,” per the BBC. However, the firm warns that the pandemic-induced reduction in flights can hurt the performance of flight crews: “Skill fade is recognized as a critical issue for our industry as we return to normal operations.” (Read more plane crash stories.)

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