Nepal plane crash: Passenger footage shows horrific incident
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On Sunday, Nepal experienced its most deadly plane crash in 30 years, after Yeti Airlines Flight 691 plummeted to its end over the skies of Pokhara as it came in to land. There were 72 passengers and crew aboard the flight, which had travelled from the capital of Kathmandu. None are believed to have survived. Now, as tragic stories emerge of the loved ones lost on Flight 691, one cruel twist of fate has emerged: the co-pilot, a mother, lost her husband to the exact same fate years earlier.
In 2006, Ms Anju Khatiwada decided to become a pilot after her husband — a co-pilot for the same airline — died in a similar crash, according to a Yeti Airlines spokesperson.
Ms Khatiwada used the insurance payout money from the death of Dipak Pokhrel to pay for her travels to the US to train as a pilot, vowing to continue his dream and legacy.
Giving up a steady career as a nurse in the face of opposition from her family, she successfully completed the years of training it required and qualified as a pilot, raising her daughter from her marriage with Mr Pokhrel with the help of her parents, according to the New York Times.
Returning to Nepal in 2010, she took up flying for Yeti Airlines and rose to the rank of captain after racking up thousands of hours on the flight clock. In total, she accumulated a combined 6,300 hours of air experience.
Gopal Regmi, a relative and friend of Ms Khatiwada’s father’s, told the New York Times: “Anju’s father had asked her not to choose the pilot profession.
“After her husband’s tragic death, she was determined to become a pilot.”
Now, tragically, she has met the same fate.
“She was a brave woman with all the courage and determination. She’s left us too soon,” Sudarshan Bartaula from Yeti Airlines told CNN.
Investigations are now ongoing as to what went so terribly wrong in the ill-fated flight. Anup Joshi, a spokesman for Yeti Airlines, has said that the “mountains were clear and visibility was good” and that there was a light wind and “no issue with weather”.
But these tragedies aren’t unheard of in Nepal. Difficult topography and fast-chaining weather conditions in the Himalayan regions make for often perilous journeys with crashes commonplace.
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What is shocking, however, is the death tally of the most recent crash, almost unprecedented in modern times. So too is the way it was captured: videos from both aboard the flight and from the ground show the moments the plane lost control and hurtled towards the ground in chilling detail.
In one 90-second live stream broadcast on Facebook, Indian passenger Sonu Jaiswal, who was travelling to an important Hindu shrine, can be seen laughing and joking with three friends as the plane descends ready for landing.
The video shows the aircraft swinging violently to one side before cries are heard. Flames then engulf the live stream.
Vishal Kushwaha, his friend, was meant to be with him and the others during the trip but dropped out at the eleventh hour due to an illness in his family, telling the New York Times that the men were “supposed to come back today (Tuesday, January 16).”
Among those on the plane included 53 Nepalis, five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans and one person each from Australia, Argentina, France and Ireland. There were also four Nepali crew members.
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Since the early Nineties, Nepal has had 30 deadly air crashes, according to the Aviation Safety Network.
The worst one before this week came in May 2021 when 22 people died on a flight operated by Tara Air, a sister comp
any of Air Yeti, in a 20-minute flight from Pokhara to Jomsom.
Before this, a 2016 Tara Air flight from Pokhara to Jomsom killed 23 people.
The crashes have continued despite the fact that Nepal’s government has introduced a vast range of improvements to aviation safety.
A number of things have been blamed for Nepal’s continued poor airline safety record, things such as the terrain and weather, outdated aircraft, lax regulations and poor oversight.
The latest crash will only further scrutiny around the country’s record, despite it having improved in the safety rankings from 47 per cent in 2009 to 70 per cent in 2022.
While the 2022 audit — the most recent — showed how far the country had come, it revealed continued concerns about shortcomings in air navigation, investigation of incidents and the structuring of implementing safety standards.
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