The co-pilot of the Yeti Airlines flight that crashed on Sunday at Nepal was the widow of a pilot who flew for the same airline and also died in a plane crash 16 years ago.
In 2010, Anju Khatiwada joined Yeti Airlines, following in her husband’s footsteps. Dipak Pokhrel also flew for the Nepalese airline, but died when a small passenger plane he was piloting crashed minutes before landing.
Khatiwada was the co-pilot of the Kathmandu flight that crashed on Sunday approaching the city of Pokhara, killing at least 68 people in the Himalayan nation’s deadliest plane crash in three decades.
No survivors have yet been found among the 72 people on board.
“Her husband, Dipak Pokhrel, died in the 2006 Yeti Airlines Twin Otter plane crash in Jumla,” airline spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula told Reuters, referring to Khatiwada. “She did her pilot training with the money she got from the insurance after her husband died.”
A pilot with more than 6,400 flying hours, Khatiwada had previously flown the popular tourist route from the capital, Kathmandu, to the country’s second-largest city, Pokhara, Bartaula said.
The body of Kamal KC, the captain, who had over 21,900 flight hours, was found and identified.
Kathiwada has not been identified but it is feared she is dead, Bartaula said.
“On Sunday, she was flying the plane with an instructor pilot, which is standard airline procedure,” said a Yeti Airlines official, who knew Khatiwada personally.
“She was always ready to take on any role and flew to Pokhara earlier,” said the official, who asked not to be named as he is not authorized to speak to the media.
Reuters could not immediately reach any of his family members.
The ATR-72 plane that Khatiwada co-piloted rolled from side to side before crashing into a gorge near Pokhara airport and catching fire, according to eyewitness accounts and a the video of the accident published on social networks.
The aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, which can help investigators determine what caused its crash on a clear day, were picked up on Monday.
Nearly 350 people have died in plane or helicopter crashes in Nepal since 2000. The country is home to eight of the world’s 14 tallest mountains, including Everest, and sudden weather changes can create dangerous conditions.