Two Americans and two lawful U.S. permanent residents were among those who perished Sunday in an airplane crash in Nepal, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday, according to Fox News.
Yeti Airlines flight 691 was traveling from Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, to Pokhara, a city in the central part of the country where the crash occurred. The cause of the crash is still unclear, according to the nation’s aviation authorities.
“Our thoughts are with the families of those on board,” Ned Price, State Department spokesman, said. “The United States stands ready to support Nepal in any way we can at this difficult hour.”
The ATR 72-500 aircraft carried 72 people, and all were killed when the plane went down in a 1,000-foot-deep gorge. Pokhara Airport, the flight’s intended destination, opened earlier this month. The crash was the second in the past year for the Himalayan country.
Nepal observed a national day of mourning on Monday, the same day the black box and cockpit voice recorders were retrieved from the wreckage. The contents of those devices will help investigators determine what caused the country’s deadliest airplane crash in 30 years. Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority confirmed that the cockpit recording would be analyzed locally, but the black box will be sent to France for analysis.
A graphic video from the flight emerged of a passenger reportedly live-streaming the events on Facebook. The video showed the moment something went wrong with the aircraft and ended with flames and smoke taking over the frame. Another video shows the outside view of the turboprop regional airliner flying low and appearing to lose control just moments before the disaster.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
DISTURBING | A purported video clip shows one of the five Indian passengers onboard the #YetiAirlines aircraft filming his last moments before it crashed into the gorge of Seti river in #Nepal. Reportedly, 68 people lost their lives in the incident.
Reports @dharmendra_lmp pic.twitter.com/irVZwYOv76
— The New Indian (@TheNewIndian_in) January 15, 2023
The co-pilot of the flight, Anju Khatiwada, spent years in the United States training. She was reportedly inspired to become a pilot by her husband, who was also a pilot. He died in a plane crash minutes before landing in 2006 flying for the same airline. Khatiwada’s colleagues describe her as a talented aviator, according to the Associated Press.
“Her husband, Dipak Pokhrel, died in 2006 in a crash of a Twin Otter plane of Yeti Airlines in Jumla,” a Yeti airline spokesman told Reuters. “She got her pilot training with the money she got from the insurance after her husband’s death.”
All Nepalese airlines have been banned from operating within the European Union since 2013 for lack of safety standards. Nepal has a history of airplane crashes, with 42 fatal ones since 1946, according to the AP. The topography of Nepal is one potential reason, with eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, along with rapid weather changes and aging aircraft.