The plane suddenly appeared to veer to the left as Jaiswal’s smartphone briefly captured the cries of passengers. Within seconds, the images became jerky and included the screeching sound of an engine. Towards the end of the video, huge flames and smoke took over the image.
The Yeti Airlines flight from Kathmandu that plunged into a gorge on Sunday, killing all 72 on board, was co-piloted by Anju Khatiwada, who spent years training in the United States for pilot training after her husband died in a plane crash in 2006. a flight for the same airline. Her colleagues described her as a skilled aviator who was highly motivated.
The deaths of Khatiwada, 44, and Jaiswal, 25, are part of a deadly pattern in Nepal, a country that has experienced a series of plane crashes over the years, due in part to difficult terrain, inclement weather and aging fleets .
On Tuesday, authorities began returning some identified bodies to relatives and said they were sending the ATR 72-500 plane’s data recorder to France for analysis to determine what caused the crash.
In the Indian city of Ghazipur, nearly 430 kilometers (270 mi) south of the Nepal crash site, Jaiswal’s family was distraught and still awaiting identification of his body. His father, Rajendra Prasad Jaiswal, had boarded a car for Kathmandu on Monday evening and was due to arrive in Nepal’s capital late Tuesday.
“It’s hard to wait,” said Jaiswal’s brother, Deepak Jaiswal.
News of the crash of Jaiswal’s plane in Pokhara reached his home barely minutes after the accident when news outlets began broadcasting footage of the plane’s mutilated wreckage, which was still burning and billowing thick gray smoke, Deepak said.
Still, the family was unwilling to trust the news and hoped he would survive.
Sunday night, however, it was clear. Deepak, who confirmed the authenticity of Jaiswal’s live stream to The Associated Press, was one of the first in his family to view the video that has since gone viral on the internet.
“We couldn’t believe the news until we saw the video,” he said. “It was painful.”
Jaiswal, a father of three, worked at a local liquor store in Alawalpur Afga village in the Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh state. Deepak said his brother went to Kathmandu to visit Pashupatinath Temple – a Hindu shrine dedicated to the god Shiva – and to pray for a son, before leaving for Pokhara along with three other friends for sightseeing.
“He wasn’t just my brother,” Deepak said. “I’ve lost a friend in him.”
The tragedy was deeply felt in Nepal, where 53 passengers were locals.
Hundreds of relatives and friends of the victims comforted each other at a local hospital on Tuesday. Families of some of the victims whose bodies have been identified have prepared funerals for their loved ones.
However, co-pilot Khatiwada’s colleagues were still in disbelief.
“She was a very good pilot and very experienced,” Yeti Airlines spokesman Pemba Sherpa said of Khatiwada.
Khatiwada started flying for Yeti Airlines in 2020 – four years after her husband, Dipak Pokhrel, died in a crash. He was flying a DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 aircraft for the same airline when it crashed in Nepal’s Jumla district and burst into flames, killing all nine on board. Khatiwada later remarried.
Sherpa said Khatiwada was a “skillful pilot” with a “friendly disposition” and had risen to the rank of captain after thousands of hours of flying since joining the airline in 2010.
“We lost our best,” Sherpa said.
Associated Press video journalist Piyush Nagpal contributed to this report.