Nepal plane crash filmed by passenger from India on board flight

Facebook Live video recorded by one of four friends from a town in northern India who died in the incident

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Four friends from a small Indian town were among those killed in the Nepal plane crash, with one of them posting a Facebook Live video of the incident from on board the flight.

Sonu Jaiswal, 35, Anil Kumar Rajbhar and Abhishek Kushwaha, both 27, and Vishal Sharma, 22, were on their way home after visiting the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu.

They were all from the town of Alawalpur in Ghazipur district, Uttar Pradesh. Family and friends were devastated after hearing of their deaths on the news.

The men were due to return to India on Monday after the trip to the site dedicated to Hindu deity Shiva in Nepal's capital.

But on Sunday, the four men described by family as inseparable died after a Yeti Airlines flight crashed minutes before landing at Pokhara airport.

Everybody on board the twin-engined ATR 72 that took off from Kathmandu is believed to have died when it plunged into a 300 metre-deep gorge between Pokhara’s old airport and its new international terminal.

A fifth friend, Sanjay Jaiswal, from eastern Bihar, was also on the plane.

The plane had 72 on board — four crew members, 53 Nepalese and 15 of other nationalities. The bodies of 67 victims have been found.

The friends and family of the four men discovered they had died when their names were read out on the local news.

“When the news first broke, we ignored it,” friend Vishal Kushwaha told The National.

“But after a few hours, the anchors started reading out their names one by one. We were in disbelief … we panicked and started calling them and checking their social media.”

Vishal Sharma, 22, Abhishek Kushwaha, 27, and Anil Kumar Rajbhar, 27. Photo: Vishal Kushwaha

Vishal Kushwaha said Sonu Jaiswal posted a Facebook Live video from inside the plane minutes before the crash.

In the video, too distressing to be published, Sonu Jaiswal can be seen in a window seat, pointing the camera to the window. One of their party can be heard saying “it’s really fun” as the plane begins its descent.

But suddenly, the video becomes unstable as the plane veers off and the screen goes blank temporarily before the final moments showing what appear to be flames and smoke.

A pall of gloom has descended on the town, now left awaiting the return of the four men's bodies. The families have rushed to Nepal to identify the bodies.

A pall of gloom has descended on the town of Alawalpur in Ghazipur district, Uttar Pradesh. Photo: Vishal Kushwaha

“We are at a loss of words … the video is painful to watch,” Vishal Kushwaha said in a trembling voice.

He was supposed to join the group but backed out at the last minute owing to his brother’s ill health.

“I am unable to believe that I have lost all four of them. All gone in one go,” he said.

The men were shopkeepers, while others did menial jobs.

Sonu Jaiswal was the only married man in the group and leaves three young children, two daughters aged six and three and a one-year-old son.

Vishal Sharma, the youngest in the group, was the sole breadwinner in his family. It was his first foreign trip.

Vishal Sharma was on his first foreign trip. Photo: Vishal Kushwaha

“He was very excited. I don’t know what will happen to his family. His mother doesn’t know yet,” Vishal Kushwaha said.

While officials are yet to confirm the identity of the bodies, several local news reports confirmed a number of notable Nepalese people were on board the ill-fated flight.

Folk singer Nira Chhantyal, journalist Tribhuvan Paudel, orthopaedic surgeon Dr Sushil Shrestha, his wife Dr Sena Diwakar and their infant son were all said to be on board.

Updated: January 18, 2023, 10:01 AM
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