Family members and relatives of the victims of the Yeti Airlines plane crash cry outside a hospital in Pokhara, Nepal, on January 16, 2023.

PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP via Getty Images

Pokhara, Nepal — A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal says the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered from the crash site of the passenger plane that descended on the approach to the newly opened airport in the tourist town of Pokhara.

Jagannath Neeraula said the boxes were found on Monday, a day after the ATR-72 plane crashed, killing 68 of the 72 people on board. He informed that they will be handed over to the investigators.

Pemba Sherpa, spokesperson for Yeti Airlines, also confirmed that the flight data and the cockpit voice recorder were recovered.

A day of national mourning was declared in Nepal on Monday as rescuers descended the 984ft gorge to continue the search. Two more bodies were found on Monday morning.

Senior local official Tek Bahadur K.S. told Agence France-Presse: “We are praying for a miracle. But the hope of finding anyone alive is zero.”

Plane crash in Nepal
Nepalese rescue workers and civilians gather around the wreckage of a passenger plane that crashed in Pokhara, Nepal on January 15, 2023.

Krishna Mani Baral / OP

It remains unclear what caused the crash, the Himalayan country’s deadliest air crash in three decades. On the day of the disaster, the weather was mild and not windy.

A witness who videotaped the plane’s descent from his balcony said he saw the plane flying low before it suddenly turned left. “I saw it and I was shocked… I thought today will be the end here after it fails, I will also be dead,” Diwas Bahora said. After it crashed, red flames erupted and the ground shook violently like an earthquake, Bohora said. “I was scared. Seeing that scene scared me.”

Amit Singh, an experienced pilot and founder of the Flight Safety Foundation of India, said the video appeared to show a stall, a situation where a plane loses lift, especially likely at low speeds.

The pilot, who normally flies the ATR 72-500 from India to Nepal, said the region’s terrain, with its mountain peaks and narrow valleys, increases the risk of accidents and sometimes requires pilots to fly by sight instead of relying on instruments. A pilot with a private Indian airline who did not want to be named because of company policy called the ATR 72-500 an “unforgiving aircraft” unless the pilot is highly trained and familiar with the terrain and wind speeds in the region. .

Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority said the plane last made contact with the airport in the Seti Gorge area at 10:50 a.m. before crashing.

Another witness said he saw the plane spin violently in the air after it started to descend to the ground, watching it from the terrace of his house. Finally, Gaurav Gurung said, the plane fell nose-first to the left and crashed into a gorge.

Rescue workers examine the wreckage of the Yeti Airlines plane crash site in Pokhara, Nepal, on January 16, 2023.

PRAKASH MATHEMA / AFP via Getty Images

Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority said the plane last made contact with the airport in the Seti Gorge area at 10:50 a.m. before crashing.

The twin-engine ATR 72, operated by Nepal’s Yeti Airlines, was making the 27-minute flight from the capital Kathmandu to Pokhara, 125 miles to the west. There were 68 passengers on board, including 15 foreign nationals, as well as four crew members, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said in a statement. Among the foreigners were five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans and one each from Ireland, Australia, Argentina and France.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Pokhara Academy of Health and Science, Western Hospital, where the bodies were kept. Relatives and friends of the victims, many of whom were from Pokhara, comforted each other as they waited.

Bimala Bhenderi was waiting outside the post-mortem room on Monday. She was planning to meet her friend Tribhuban Paudel on Tuesday when she heard that his flight had crashed. “I’m so sad, I still can’t believe it,” she said through tears.

Gyan Khadka, a police spokesman in the district, said 31 bodies have been identified and will be handed over to the family after officials complete post-mortem reports. The bodies of foreigners and unrecognizables will be sent to Kathmandu for further investigation.

Consequences of the Yeti Airlines plane crash in Pokhara
A rescue team retrieves the body of a victim from the crash site of a Yeti Airlines plane in Pokhara, Nepal, on January 16, 2023.


On Sunday, Twitter was awash with images showing plumes of smoke rising from the crash site, nearly a mile from Pokhara International Airport. The plane’s fuselage was broken into several pieces that were scattered across the gorge.

Hours after dark, scores of onlookers remained huddled around the crash site near the airport in the resort city of Pokhara as rescuers combed the wreckage over the edge of the cliff and into the ravine below.

Local resident Bishnu Tiwari, who rushed to the wreckage site near the Seti River to help search for bodies, said heavy smoke and raging fire were hampering rescue efforts.

“The flames were so intense that we could not get close to the wreckage. I heard the man shouting for help, but due to the flames and smoke we could not help him,” Tiwari said.

At Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, family members looked distraught as they waited for information.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal rushed to the airport after the crash and set up a team to investigate the crash.

“The incident was tragic. All the forces of the Nepalese army and police were involved in the rescue,” he said.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it was still trying to confirm the fate of the two South Korean passengers and sent officials to the scene. Russian Ambassador to Nepal Aleksei Novikov confirmed the death of four Russian citizens who were on board the plane.

Omar Gutierrez, the governor of Argentina’s Neuquen province, wrote on his official Twitter account that the Argentine passenger on the flight was Janet Palavesina from his province.

Rescue workers examine the wreckage of the Yeti Airlines plane crash site in Pokhara, Nepal, on January 16, 2023.


Polovechin’s Facebook page says she was the manager of the Suizo Hotel in Neuquen. She called herself a lover of travel and adventure tourism.

Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers told reporters on Monday that “our hearts go out to all the families of the crew and passengers” who died, adding that the government was providing consular support to the family of the Australian who was on board the plane.

Pokhara is the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, a popular hiking trail in the Himalayas. The city’s new international airport started operating only two weeks ago.

This type of aircraft, the ATR 72, was used by airlines around the world for short regional flights. Introduced in the late 1980s by a French-Italian partnership, this aircraft model has suffered several fatal crashes over the years.

In Taiwan, two previous accidents involving an ATR 72-500 and an ATR 72-600 occurred months apart.

In July 2014, a TransAsia ATR 72-500 crashed while attempting to land in the scenic Penghu Archipelago between Taiwan and China, killing 48 people. An ATR 72-600 of the same Taiwanese airline crashed shortly after takeoff in Taipei in February 2015 after one of its engines failed and the other was shut down, apparently by mistake.

The 2015 crash, captured on dramatic video footage of the out-of-control plane slamming into a taxi, killed 43 people and forced authorities to temporarily ground all Taiwan-registered ATR 72s. TransAsia suspended all flights in 2016, and then stopped working.

ATR identified the plane involved in Sunday’s crash as an ATR 72-500 in a tweet. According to the plane’s tracking data from, the plane was 15 years old and “equipped with an old transponder with unreliable data.” According to records on, it was previously flown by India’s Kingfisher Airlines and Thailand’s Nok Air before Yeti took over in 2019.

Yeti Airlines has a fleet of six ATR 72-500 aircraft, company spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula said.

Home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Mount Everest, Nepal has a history of plane crashes. Sunday’s crash was the deadliest in Nepal since 1992, when all 167 people on board a Pakistan International Airlines plane crashed into a hill while trying to land in Kathmandu.

According to the Flight Safety Foundation’s aviation safety database, there have been 42 fatal plane crashes in Nepal since 1946.

According to a 2019 safety report from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, the country’s “hostile terrain” and “diverse weather conditions” were the biggest dangers to flying in the country. The report said that such accidents occurred at airports that had short runways for take-off and landing, and most of them were due to pilot error.

The report added that 37% of all air crashes in Nepal between 2009 and 2018 were due to pilot error, excluding helicopters and recreational flights.

The European Union has banned airlines from Nepal from flying to 27 countries in the bloc since 2013, citing lax safety standards. In 2017, the International Civil Aviation Organization noted improvements in Nepal’s aviation sector, but the EU continues to demand administrative reforms.

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