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Two Americans killed in plane crash in Nepal, US State Department says

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Two Americans and two immigrants who lived in the United States were among the 72 people killed after their plane crashed in Nepal over the weekend, the worst such air disaster for the Himalayan nation in 30 years.

Yeti Airlines Flight 691 departed from the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu on Sunday morning. It was supposed to be a 25-minute trip to Pokhara, a city about 125 miles west that’s popular with tourists. But authorities were alerted the plane crashed into a gorge 30 minutes after takeoff and about a mile from the two-week-old Pokhara airport.

No one survived, authorities said Monday, and authorities on the ground were still searching the wreckage to figure out why the plane had crashed.

“Our hearts go out to the families of those on board,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said during a Wednesday briefing. “The United States stands ready to support Nepal in any way possible at this difficult hour.”

The Washington Post earlier reported that a statement from the airline said that at least 53 Nepalese nationals and 15 foreign nationals were on the flight – with people from India, Russia, South Korea, Argentina, Australia, France and Ireland.

Price did not name the two Americans and two immigrants living in the United States who died.

La Poste reported on the identities of some who were killed in the plane crash: an Australian schoolteacher, an Argentinian hotelier, a British ballet dancer who had celebrated her 34th birthday the day before, a Nepalese folk singer on her way to a local festival and the American-trained co-pilot whose husband also died in an accident of plane.

Nepal Plane Crash Victims: Dancer, Folk Singer and Outdoor Enthusiast

Yeti Airlines Spokesperson Sudarshan Bartaula told The Post on Tuesday that Captain Anju Khatiwada had traveled to Toulouse, France, in 2021 to train on the ATR 72 – the twin-engine turboprop aircraft involved in Sunday’s flight. – and had nearly 6,400 hours of flight experience.

Officials recovered the two black boxes, the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, a spokesman for Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu said. The data logger will be sent to France for analysis, reported The Associated Press.

Nepal has experienced a multitude of air disasters over the years. Part of the problem is that this landlocked country is residence to eight of the 14 tallest mountains in the world.

“The diversity of weather patterns as well as the harsh topography are the main challenges surrounding air operations in Nepal,” according to a safety report 2019 from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.

The manufacturer of the crashed aircraft, ATR Aircraft, is headquartered in France. According to the company’s website, the first ATR 72 flew in October 1988.

Reuters reported that nearly 350 people have died in plane or helicopter crashes in Nepal since 2000. Bloomberg News reported that the European Union has banned all Nepal-based airlines from its airspace since 2013, citing security concerns.

An accident in the Himalayan mountains killed 22 people in May who were on board a twin-prop plane of Tara Air, a subsidiary of Yeti Airlines.

Authorities said on January 16 that there were “no survivors” of the plane crash in Nepal. At least 69 of the 72 people on board have been located. (Video: AP)

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