Passenger video captures last moments before Nepal crashes

New Delhi (AFP) – Flight passenger Sonu Jaiswal’s 90-second smartphone video of the plane approaching the runway begins by flying over buildings and green fields over the Nepalese city of Pokhara in the Himalayan foothills.

Everything seemed normal as Jaiswal’s Facebook Live morphed from the breathtaking views seen from the plane window to the other passengers laughing. Finally, Jaiswal, wearing a yellow jacket, turns the camera to himself and smiles.

Then it happened.

The plane suddenly appeared to veer to its left when Jaiswal’s smartphone briefly picked up the screams of the passengers. Within seconds, the thuds turned into vibrations and recorded the screeching sound of the engine. Towards the end of the video, flames and smoke shoot through the frame.

A Yeti Airlines flight from Kathmandu fell into a ravine On Sunday, all 72 people on board were killed in the plane, which was piloted by Anju Khatiwada, who pursued years of pilot training in the United States after her husband died in a 2006 plane crash while flying the same airline. Her colleagues described her as a very skilled and enthusiastic pilot.

The deaths of Khatiwada, 44, and Jaiswal, 25, are part of a deadly pattern in Nepal, a country that has seen a string of air crashes over the years, due in part to rough terrain, bad weather and aging fleets..

On Tuesday, authorities began returning some of the identified bodies to family members and said they were sending an ATR 72-500 flight data recorder to France. To be analyzed to determine the cause of the breakdown.

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In the Indian city of Gazipur, about 430 kilometers (270 miles) south of the crash site in Nepal, Jaiswal’s family was distraught and still waiting to identify his body. His father, Rajendra Prasad Jaiswal, had taken a car to Kathmandu on Monday night and was expected to arrive in the Nepalese capital late on Tuesday.

“It’s a tough wait,” said Jaiswal’s brother, Deepak Jaiswal.

Deepak said that news of the Jaiswal plane crash in Pokhara reached his home a few minutes after the accident as news channels began broadcasting pictures of the still burning wreckage of the plane, thick gray smoke billowing from it.

However, the family was not willing to trust the news, holding out hope for his survival.

But by Sunday evening, it was becoming clear. Deepak, who confirmed the authenticity of Jaiswal’s live broadcast to the Associated Press, was among the first in his family to view the video, which has since gone viral on the internet.

“We couldn’t believe the news until we saw the video,” he said. “It hurt.”

Jaiswal, a father of three, worked in a local liquor store in Alawalepur Avgha village in Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh state. Deepak said his brother went to Kathmandu to visit the Pashupatinath temple — a Hindu shrine dedicated to the god Shiva — and pray for his son, before setting off to Pokhara for sightseeing with three other friends.

He wasn’t just my brother, Deepak said. “I lost a friend in it.”

The tragedy was felt deeply in Nepal, where 53 of the passengers were locals.

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Hundreds of relatives and friends of the victims were comforting each other on Tuesday at a local hospital. Families of some of the victims whose bodies have been identified have prepared funerals for their loved ones.

However, co-pilot Khatiwada’s colleagues were still in disbelief.

“She was a very good pilot and very experienced,” Yeti Airlines spokesperson Pemba Sherpa said of Khatiwada.

Khatiwada started flying for Yeti Airlines in 2020 – four years after her husband, Dipak Bukherl, died in a crash. He was flying a DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 belonging to the same airline when it crashed in Nepal’s Jumla region and caught fire, killing all nine people on board. She later married Khatiwada.

Sherpa said Khatiwada was a “skilled pilot” with a “friendly nature” who had risen to captain having flown thousands of hours since joining the airline in 2010.

“We lost the best of us,” Sherpa said.

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Associated Press video journalist Piyush Nagpal contributed to this report.

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