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Passenger goes live on Facebook moments before devastating plane crash in Nepal

By AYIE LICSI Published Jan 16, 2023 7:54 pm

Trigger warning: This article includes graphic content.

On Jan. 15, Nepal saw its deadliest air crash in 30 years as a Yeti Airlines flight carrying 72 passengers and crew suddenly plummeted into a steep gorge. A harrowing Facebook live video minutes before the accident surfaced online, detailing events before the fatal crash.

In the video, an Indian man and his friends who were flying from Kathmandu to Pokhara were in good spirits.

"Mauj Kar Di," one man can be heard saying, which translates to "It's real fun."

All appeared calm in the cabin and some of the men can even be heard laughing. Moments later, the plane looks to have taken a sharp turn toward the left, and a loud roar is heard. The camera is shaken as the sounds of the crash thunder and after, the screen was filled with flames. No voices could be heard.

No hope for suvivors

On Jan. 16, Nepali rescuers scoured the debris-strewn ravine for missing bodies. Hopes of any survivors are "nil," according to authorities.

"We have collected 68 bodies so far. We are searching for four more bodies. We should continue until we get the bodies," senior local official Tek Bahadur KC told AFP. "We pray for a miracle. But the hope of finding anyone alive is nil."

The plane carried five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans, and one person each from Argentina, Australia, France, and Ireland. The rest were Nepalis. The aircraft was on approach to a newly opened airport in the tourist town of Pokhara when it crashed.

"I was walking when I heard a loud blast, like a bomb went off," said witness Arun Tamu, 44, who was around 500 meters away and who live-streamed the blazing wreckage on social media.

"A few of us rushed to see if we can rescue anybody. I saw at least two women were breathing. The fire was getting very intense and it made it difficult for us to approach closer," the former soldier told AFP.

A spokesman told BBC News that the pilot of the flight did not report "anything untoward" before it crashed.

"The mountains were clear and visibility was good. No issue with weather," Anup Joshi said.

Nepal's prime minister declared Monday a national day of mourning, with the government set to investigate the cause of the accident.

The country last saw its deadliest air crash in 1992, where all 167 of its passengers and crew were killed.

Its aviation sector has been plagued by poor safety due to insufficient training and maintenance. The European Union has banned all Nepali carriers from its airspace over safety concerns.

Nepal also has some of the world's most remote and trickiest runways, flanked by snow-capped peaks with difficult approaches and capricious weather.

(With reports from AFP)