Nepal plane crash – live: Pilot asked to switch runway minutes before landing, says official

The pilot of the Yeti Airlines plane that crashed on Sunday asked the airport to switch runway minutes before his aircraft plunged into a deep gorge, a Pokhara airport spokesperson said.

Anup Joshi said the pilot did not flag “anything untoward” to air traffic control and asked to switch from runway 3 to runway 1, adding weather conditions were good for a safe landing that day.

The Yeti Airlines twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft was carrying 72 people – four crew members and 68 passengers – when it crashed near the airport of the tourist city of Pokhara.

The dead bodies of 68 people have been recovered while four people remain unaccounted for.

No survivors have been found and a local official said hopes of finding any are “nil”.

While the search continues, rescue teams were able to recover both the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the wreckage.

Both boxes are in good condition and will be sent for analysis, a Kathmandu airport official said.

Meanwhile, a video is being widely shared which was filmed and broadcast on Facebook Live by one of the passengers in the final moments of the flight.

Nepal plane crash

  • Nepal official says no hopes of finding survivors

  • Both black boxes found, say airport officials

  • Search operation to find four missing resumes

  • Death toll rises to 68 as plane with 72 people on board crashes in Nepal

Cloudy weather hampering rescue efforts

12:01 , Shweta Sharma

Rescuers are battling cloudy weather and poor visibility as they scoured a river gorge where a passenger plane carrying 73 passengers crashed.

Search operation was resumed today to search for missing people, more than 24 hours after the crash.

A video footage from the crash site showed rescuers looking at the charred remains of the plane near the gorge.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

ICYM: Video shows final moments of Nepal flight before plane crashed killing 68 people

11:53 , Shweta Sharma

Video shared online shows the dramatic moments before a plane crash in Nepal killed at least 68 people.

The flight from Kathmandu to the resort town of Pokhara had 72 people aboard and crashed while landing at a newly opened airport on Sunday.

The crash is the country’s deadliest airplane accident in more than three decades.

A total of 15 foreign nationals were on board the Yeti Airlines flight, according to Nepal’s aviation authority, including one Irish person.

Pilot did not flag ‘anything untoward’, says airport spokesperson

11:07 , Shweta Sharma

A spokesperson for Pokhara airport says the Yeti Airlines pilot did not flag “anything untoward” to air traffic control and that the flight was cleared for landing.

Anup Joshi said the pilot asked for a change in runway and the permission was granted.

“We don’t ask (why), whenever a pilot asks we give permission to change approach,” he said, adding the landing was changed from runway 3 to runway 1.

“We could operate from both runways. The plane was cleared for landing.”

Mr Joshi said “mountains were clear and visibility was good”. He said there was a light wind and “no issue with weather”.

Russian envoy confirms death of four nationals

10:50 , Shweta Sharma

The Russian Ambassador to Nepal, Alexei Novikov, confirmed the death of four Russian citizens who were on board the plane.

The plane was carrying 15 foreign nationals, including five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans, and one each from Ireland, Australia, Argentina and France.

Nepal plane crash marks country’s 13th fatal incident since 2010

10:30 , Shweta Sharma

Almost everywhere in the world, passenger aviation has become extraordinarily safe. In 2022, the total aviation death toll of 174 corresponded to the average number of fatalities on the roads in an hour and a quarter worldwide.

Two weeks ago, Adrian Young of the Dutch air safety consultancy To70 reported: “The fatal accident rate is better than average over the last 10 years.”

But there is one country where plane crashes remain tragically frequent: Nepal.

Nepal plane crash marks country’s 13th fatal incident since 2010

35 bodies identified so far as some victims beyond recognition

10:00 , Shweta Sharma

Authorities have identified 35 out of 68 bodies of those killed in the crash in Pokhara, as hundreds of people gathered outside to find their loved ones.

Relatives and friends of the victims, many of whom were from Pokhara, gathered outside the Pokhara Academy of Health and Science, Western Hospital, and consoled each other as they waited for information.

“The bodies are being identified. At least 35 bodies have been identified so far,” said police inspector Gyan Bahadur Khadka, acting information officer of Kaski District Police Office. He said autopsies will begin once the process is completed.

Bimala Bhenderi was waiting outside the post-mortem room on Monday. She was planning to meet her friend, Tribhuban Paudel, on Tuesday when she heard that his flight had crashed. “I’m so sad, I can’t believe it still,” she said in tears.

Eyewitness says he thought he was dying as ground shook

09:30 , Shweta Sharma

A witness who recorded footage of the plane’s descent from his balcony said he saw the plane flying low before it suddenly veered to its left.

“I saw that and I was shocked— I thought that today everything will be finished here after it crashes, I will also be dead,” said Diwas Bohora.

After it crashed, red flames erupted and the ground shook violently, like an earthquake, Mr Bohora said.

“I was scared. Seeing that scene, I was scared.”

Indian man who recorded last moments inside flight was visiting temple for son’s birth

09:00 , Shweta Sharma

The Indian man who did a Facebook live and purportedly captured the final moments before the crash was vising Nepal’s famous Pashupatinath Temple to pay obeisance for his six-month-old son’s birth, PTI news agency reported.

The passenger on the flight, identified as Sonu Jaiswal, went live on Facebook, showing himself smiling as the plane descended before a loud explosion was heard. The video ended with flames covering the frame.

Vijay Jaiswal, a relative and head of his village, told the news agency that Sonu had gone to Nepal on 10 January to visit the temple in Kathmandu.

“Sonu, along with his three friends, had gone to Nepal on January 10. His main purpose was to pay obeisance... as his wish to have a son - now six months old - has been fulfilled. But fate had something else in store for him,” he said.

He already had two daughters and had promised to visit the Pashupatinath Temple if he had a son, Vijay Jaiswal said.

Co-pilot of crashed flight had lost husband in crash

08:29 , Shweta Sharma

Anju Khatiwada, the co-pilot of the Yeti Airlines flight that crashed on Sunday, got pilot training from her husband’s insurance money after he himself died in a crash in 2006.

Four years later, Khatiwada joined Nepal’s Yeti Airlines, following in the footsteps of her husband, Dipak Pokhrel.

On Sunday, Khatiwada, 44, was the co-pilot on the Yeti Airlines flight from Kathmandu that crashed as it approached the city of Pokhara, killing at least 68 people in the Himalayan nation’s deadliest plane accident in three decades.

“Her husband, Dipak Pokhrel, died in 2006 in a crash of a Twin Otter plane of Yeti Airlines in Jumla,” airline spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula told Reuters, referring to Khatiwada. “She got her pilot training with the money she got from the insurance after her husband’s death.”

A pilot with more than 6,400 hours of flying time, Khatiwada had previously flown the popular tourist route from the capital, Kathmandu, to the country’s second-largest city, Pokhara, Mr Bartaula said.

The body of Kamal KC, the captain of the flight, who had more than 21,900 hours of flight time, has been recovered and identified.

Khatiwada’s remains have not been identified but she is feared dead, Mr Bartaula said.

A Yeti Airlines official, who knew Khatiwada personally and did not want to be named said: “She was always ready to take up any duty and had flown to Pokhara earlier.”

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Nepal official says no hopes of finding survivors

07:55 , Shweta Sharma

A senior administrative officer in Nepal has said the hopes of finding any survivors are “nil” as rescuers continue to search for four missing people at the crash site.

Tek Bahadur, a chief district officer of Kaski district, said they were working to recover more bodies.

“We have collected 68 bodies so far. We are searching for four more bodies,” he said.

He confirmed that the plane’s flight data and voice recorders had been found.

Yeti Airlines cancels flights to mourn crash victims

07:18 , Shweta Sharma

Yeti Airlines, whose twin-engine aircraft crashed on Sunday, cancelled all its flights today “in mourning for the passengers who lost their lives”. It said they would resume on Monday.

The airline apologised “for any inconvenience caused”.

“However, emergency and rescue flights would resume,” it said.

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Black boxes are in ‘good condition’, official says

07:06 , Shweta Sharma

A Kathmandu Airport official has said both the black boxes recovered from the crash site are in good condition.

Teknath Sitaula, the official, said the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder recovered from the wreckage “are in a good condition now”.

“They look good from outside,” he added.

Rescuers were battling cloudy weather and poor visibility as they scoured the river gorge for four passengers who are unaccounted for, more than 24 hours after the crash. So far, 68 have been confirmed dead and almost all their bodies have been recovered.

The data on the recorders may help investigators determine what caused the ATR 72 aircraft, carrying 72 people, to crash in clear weather just before landing in the tourist city of Pokhara.

Nepal begins national mourning for crash victims

07:00 , Shweta Sharma

Nepal has begun a national day of mourning after its deadliest air accident in three decades, which left at least 68 people dead.

Rescue workers rappelled down a 300-metre (984 feet) gorge to continue the search on Monday morning, and two more bodies have been found.

Prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal rushed to the airport after the crash and set up a panel to investigate the accident.

“The incident was tragic. The full force of the Nepali army, police has been deployed for rescue,” he said.

Both black boxes found, say airport officials

06:29 , Shweta Sharma

Both the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder of the crashed aircraft in Nepal have been discovered, a Kathmandu airport official confirmed on Monday.

The breakthrough in the recovery operation after the country’s deadliest crash in three decades will yield details crucial for the investigation, including what transpired on board in the final moments before the crash.

Nepal‘s Civil Aviation Authority said the aircraft last made contact with the airport from near Seti Gorge at 10.50am before crashing.

Breaking: Black box of crashed plane in Nepal found, ANI reports

06:09 , Shweta Sharma

One of the black boxes from the crashed Yeti Airlines twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft has been discovered, a Kathmandu airport official told ANI.

It was not immediately clear whether the box found was the flight data recorder or the cockpit voice recorder.

The black boxes will provide investigators with crucial data as they try to determine what caused the crash, the Himalayan country’s deadliest airplane accident in three decades.

Russian traveller and Australian surfer: Identities of passengers revealed

05:54 , Shweta Sharma

The Yeti Airlines twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft was carrying at least 16 foreign nationals and 57 Nepali citizens on Sunday before it crashed into a gorge.

There were 57 Nepalis, five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans, and one person each from Argentina, Ireland, Australia and France.

Among those killed on the flight was Russian travel blogger Elena Banduro, 33, who had posted online about her latest trip to Nepal.

“Go to Nepal,” she wrote in a social media message. Her social media is now full of messages of condolences.

The other three Russians who died in the crash were identified as: Viktoria Altunina, Yuri Lugin and Viktor Lagin.

Meanwhile, the family of Australian passenger Myron William Love, a surfer and avid traveller, is holding hope of his survival among the four missing people, the Daily Mail reported.

A relative of Mr Love said: “We’re not saying anything until the consulate has confirmed the body.”

A general view of rescue teams working near the wreckage at the crash site of a Yeti Airlines ATR72 aircraft in Pokhara (EPA)
A general view of rescue teams working near the wreckage at the crash site of a Yeti Airlines ATR72 aircraft in Pokhara (EPA)

Death toll rises to 68 as plane with 72 people on board crashes in Nepal

05:17 , Shweta Sharma

At least 68 people are now known to have died after an aircraft with 72 people on board crashed near Pokhara international airport in Nepal on Sunday morning.

The Yeti Airlines twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft carrying 68 passengers and four crew members departed from Kathmandu and crashed on approach to Pokhara airport.

The passengers included two infants and several foreign nationals, according to airline spokesperson Sudarshan Bartaula. The aircraft crashed between the old airport and Pokhara international airport, the airline spokesperson told The Kathmandu Post.

Death toll rises to 68 as plane with 72 people on board crashes in Nepal

Video captures final moments inside Nepal plane

05:07 , Shweta Sharma

A video has emerged purportedly showing the final moments from inside the flight which crashed in Nepal on Sunday, killing at least 68 people.

The video, which was broadcast live on Facebook by one of the passengers on the Yeti Airlines flight, showed passengers smiling and looking out the window as the plane flew over houses.

It was reportedly captured by an Indian national named Sonu Jaiswal.

The video shows Yeti Airlines’ logo and a Nepalese insurance advertisement on the airline’s tray. The person shooting the video appears unsuspecting of any danger before the camera suddenly starts to shake.

Passengers can be heard shouting before the footage goes black with a loud thud, and flames light up the frame.

A man identifying himself as the brother of Sonu Jaiswal, Rajat Jaiswal, told the Times of India that the 29-year-old was on board the plane that crashed.

“Sonu was on Facebook live after boarding the flight for Pokhara. The live-streaming showed that Sonu and his companions were in a happy mood but all of a sudden flames appeared before the streaming stopped,” he said.

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Search operation to find four missing resumes

04:46 , Shweta Sharma

Rescuers have restarted the search operation to find the four people who remain missing more than 24 hours after a plane crashed in Nepal’s Pokhara.

The search was halted on Sunday night as darkness in the Himalayan town impeded rescue workers’ efforts.

Pokhara police official Ajay KC said the search-and-rescue operation, which stopped because of darkness on Sunday, had resumed early this morning.

“We will take out the five bodies from the gorge and search for the remaining four that are still missing,” he told Reuters.

03:59 , Shweta Sharma

Follow The Independent’s live coverage of the Nepal plane crash’s ongoing rescue operation on Monday.