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Nepal. Harrowing video allegedly shows final moments inside cabin before fatal plane crash



CNN

A Facebook Live video allegedly showing the last terrifying moments inside the cabin of Yeti Airlines Flight 691 before it crashed in nepal Sunday has circulated widely online, as search and recovery efforts continue on the ground.

The plane crashed while traveling from Nepal’s capital Kathmandu to Pokhara, a tourist gateway to the Himalayas. There were 72 people on board, including four crew members, according to an airline spokesperson.

With all but one of the bodies recovered, the accident scars the country deadliest air disaster in over 30 years.

A search to locate the last remaining victim is ongoing, local official Anil Shahi said on Tuesday.

The video was reportedly broadcast live from inside the plane by passenger Sonu Jaiswal, with footage beginning moments before the plane crashed. It shows an airplane window with the wing seen out as the plane banks sharply to the left.

At one point, seemingly unaware of the impending danger, Jaiswal shoots the video to himself, smiling slightly amid chatter and laughter in the background. Several passengers can be heard conversing enthusiastically in a mix of Hindi and Punjabi; a person says, “Look at this body of water, it’s excellent”, as the plane passes by the edge of a lake.

The mood inside the plane appears calm, with no emergency warning from the pilot or airline crew. Seconds later, the video suddenly begins to shake with heard screams; the camera loses focus, showing only flashes of light and loud noise, before the scene bursts into flames.

CNN corroborated the video based on geolocation, a flight manifest and information on the Yeti Airlines website.

Jaiswal is listed as a passenger on the flight manifest, and the seat number listed for him on the airline’s website matches visuals taken inside the plane.

A close friend of Jaiswal in India, Arman Ansari, also confirmed that it was Jaiswal seen in the video. He added that he was watching a Facebook Live stream of Jaiswal during the flight.

“We were watching it. We had been watching for a few seconds and then it was cut. We haven’t given it much thought,” he said.

Aryaka Akhouri, the head of Gazipur district in India where Jaiswal lived, said she spoke to Jaiswal’s parents and confirmed he was on the plane and the one filming the video.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) said the video was not from Sunday’s crash. When pressed, he said he and his team had no technical evidence to support this claim. Instead, he pointed to passengers laughing at the first sign of turbulence before panic set in seconds later as proof it couldn’t be the Yeti Airlines flight.

Aviation analyst Mary Schiavo told CNN the video could be helpful in the investigation, saying it could have captured unrecorded details in the plane’s black box. For example, the plane’s flap, which gives extra lift when landing, “doesn’t look (like it’s) all the way down,” she said.

She added that what appears to be the sound of an engine suggests “they had power on at least one engine”.

plane crash in nepal

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Search and recovery efforts continued on Tuesday for the two people still missing, according to Nepalese police. District Police Chief Ajaya KC said the foggy weather made the search difficult and authorities planned to use drones to locate missing people when the weather improves.

Meanwhile, an investigation into the cause of the accident is underway, with the help of French investigators who will be on site by Tuesday. The plane’s black box, which records flight data, was recovered on Monday and will be handed over to CAAN, officials said.

Aviation authorities said on Tuesday that the plane’s pilot asked air traffic controllers for a runway change minutes before the plane crashed.

Pokhara airport has two runways that pilots can choose from when they land and the pilot’s request has been granted, CAAN spokesman Jagannath Niroula said.

“When the Yeti Airlines pilot asked the tower if he could take the second runway to land, the tower approved it,” he said. “The tower controllers did not ask why the pilot wanted to use a different runway than originally planned, as it was technically not an issue on their side which runway the pilot chooses to land,” Niroula told CNN.

No distress calls were reported from the pilot to Pokhara airport tower controllers, it added.

Bereaved family members mourn after Yeti Airlines Flight 691 crashed on January 15.

In Kathmandu and Pokhara, crowds held candlelight vigils for the victims on Monday.

Of the bodies recovered, at least 41 have been identified, Yeti Airlines said in a statement Monday. Some bodies will be handed over to their families in Pokhara, while others – including those of foreign nationals – will be flown to Kathmandu on Tuesday, police said.

Fifteen foreign nationals were on board, from India, Russia, South Korea, Australia, Ireland, Argentina and France, according to CAAN.

Videos from Monday showed grieving families in Pokhara, waiting outside the hospital where autopsies are underway. The autopsies were delayed because a team of forensic experts did not arrive in Pokhara until Monday afternoon, according to police and airline officials.

Some families have started talking about the loss of their loved ones. In a statement on Tuesday, the family of Australian victim Myron Love said the 29-year-old teacher was an avid cyclist who was “living life to the full”.

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