Nepal plane crash searchers rappel, fly drones to find last two people


KATHMANDU, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Searchers used drones and rappelled down a 200 metres (656 feet) deep gorge in Nepal’s second-biggest city on Tuesday to search for two people unaccounted for after the country’s deadliest plane crash in 30 years killed at least 70 people.

Difficult terrain and inclement weather was hampering rescue efforts near the tourist city of Pokhara, where the Yeti Airlines ATR 72 turboprop carrying 72 people crashed in clear weather on Sunday just before landing.

“There is thick fog here now. We are sending search and rescue personnel using ropes into the gorge where parts of the plane fell and was in flames,” Ajay K.C., a police official in Pokhara who is part of the rescue efforts, told Reuters.

Searchers found two more bodies on Monday before the search was called off because of fading light.

“There were small children among the passengers. Some might have been burnt and died, and may not be found out. We will continue to look for them,” K.C. said.

An airport official said 48 bodies were brought to the capital Kathmandu on Tuesday and sent to a hospital for autopsies, while 22 bodies were being handed over to families in Pokhara.

Medical personnel in personal protective equipment and masks helped transport shrouded bodies from stretchers to a vehicle before they were flown to Kathmandu, Reuters pictures showed.

Television channels showed weeping relatives waiting for the bodies of their loved ones outside a hospital in Pokhara.

On Monday, searchers found the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the flight, both in good condition, a discovery that is likely to help investigators determine what caused the crash.

Reuters Graphics

Under international aviation rules, the crash investigation agencies of the countries where the plane and engines were designed and built are automatically part of the inquiry.

ATR is based in France and the plane’s engines were manufactured in Canada by Pratt & Whitney Canada (RTX.N).

French and Canadian air accident investigators have said they plan to participate in the probe.

Reporting by Gopal Sharma, writing by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Jamie Freed

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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