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Co-pilot of Nepal flight lost pilot husband in 2006 crash #Copilot #Nepal #flight #lost #pilot #husband #crash #englishheadline


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The co-pilot of the flight that crashed in Nepal Sunday, killing at least 68 people on board, was the wife of a pilot who lost his life in a plane crash nearly 17 years ago.

Anju Khatiwada, 44, joined Nepal’s Yeti Airlines in 2010, following in the footsteps of her husband, Dipak Pokhrel, who was killed four years prior when the small passenger plane he was piloting for the air carrier crashed minutes before landing.

On Sunday, Khatiwada was in the co-pilot’s chair on a Yeti Airlines flight from Kathmandu that went down into a gorge as it approached the city of Pokhara, in what was Nepal’s deadliest aviation disaster in three decades.

No survivors have been found so far among the 68 passengers and four crew members.

Rescuers inspect the wreckage at the site of a Yeti Airlines plane crash in Pokhara Monday.
Rescuers inspect the wreckage at the site of a Yeti Airlines plane crash in Pokhara Monday.
AFP via Getty Images
Khatiwada joined Yeti Airlines in 2010, four years after her pilot husband died in a plane crash.
Khatiwada joined Yeti Airlines in 2010, four years after her pilot husband died in a plane crash.
Family Handout

Yeti Airlines spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula confirmed that Khatiwada’s husband died in 2006 in a crash of a Twin Otter plane in the city of Jumla.

“She got her pilot training with the money she got from the insurance after her husband’s death,” Bartaula added.

A pilot with more than 6,400 hours of flying time, Khatiwada had previously flown the popular tourist route from Kathmandu to the country’s second-largest city, Pokhara.

The body of Kamal K.C., the captain of the plane, who had more than 21,900 hours of flight time, has been recovered from the wreckage and positively identified.

Kathiwada’s remains have not been identified but she is feared dead, Bartaula said.

“On Sunday, she was flying the plane with an instructor pilot, which is the standard procedure of the airline,” said an unnamed Yeti Airlines official, who knew Khatiwada personally.

So far, 68 bodies have been removed from the wreckage, but all 72 people who were aboard the flight were feared dead.
So far, 68 bodies have been removed from the wreckage, but all 72 people who were aboard the flight were feared dead.
REUTERS
The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the aircraft were recovered on Monday.
The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the aircraft were recovered on Monday.
AFP via Getty Images

“She was always ready to take up any duty and had flown to Pokhara earlier,” said the official.

The ATR-72 aircraft that Khatiwada was co-piloting rolled from side to side before crashing in a gorge near the newly-opened airport and catching fire, according to eyewitness accounts and a harrowing video of the crash posted on social media.

Authorities on Monday recovered the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the aircraft, which may help investigators determine what caused it to crash in clear weather.

A view shows Yeti Airlines plane before a crash, in Pokhara, Nepal January 15.
A view shows Yeti Airlines plane before a crash, in Pokhara, Nepal January 15.
DIWAS BOHORA/TMX via REUTERS

Jagannath Niraula, a spokesman for Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority, said the boxes will be handed over to investigators.

Both recorders were in good shape and would be sent for analysis based on the recommendation of the manufacturer, Teknath Sitaula, an official at Kathmandu airport, confirmed to Reuters.

Nepal began a national day of mourning Monday, as rescue workers rappelled down a 984-foot gorge to continue the search. Two more bodies were found in the early morning hours.

Rescuers were battling cloudy weather and poor visibility Monday as they scoured the gorge for passengers who are unaccounted for, more than 24 hours after the crash. Sixty-eight bodies have been recovered so far.

Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority said the aircraft last made contact with the airport from near Seti Gorge at 10:50 a.m.

Minutes before the aircraft was to land on Sunday, the pilot asked for a change of runway, a spokesperson for Pokhara airport told Reuters.

“The permission was granted. “We don’t ask (why), whenever a pilot asks we give permission to change approach,” the spokesperson, Anup Joshi, said.

Rescuers pull the body of a victim from the Yeti Airlines plane wreckage, in Nepal's deadliest aviation disaster in 30 years.
Rescuers pull the body of a victim from the Yeti Airlines plane wreckage, in Nepal’s deadliest aviation disaster in 30 years.
AFP via Getty Images
Family members and relatives of victims who died in a Yeti Airlines plane crash, weep outside a hospital in Pokhara.
Family members and relatives of victims who died in a Yeti Airlines plane crash, weep outside a hospital in Pokhara.
AFP via Getty Images

The twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft, operated by Nepal’s Yeti Airlines, was completing the 27-minute flight from the capital, Kathmandu, to Pokhara, 125 miles west.

It was carrying 72 people, including 15 foreign nationals, Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement. The foreigners included 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 are being kept. Relatives and friends of victims, many of whom were from Pokhara, consoled each other as they waited.

Nearly 350 people have died since 2000 in plane or helicopter crashes in Nepal — home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest — where sudden weather changes can make for hazardous conditions.

With Post wires

English Headline

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