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Plane crash searchers in Nepal descend, fly drones in last-ditch effort to find two people


KATHMANDU, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Searchers used drones and descended a 200-meter (656-foot) deep gorge in Nepal’s second-largest city on Tuesday to look for two people missing after the country’s deadliest Plane crash in 30 years it killed at least 70 people.

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

Rescue teams are also struggling to identify the bodies, Ajay KC, a Pokhara police officer involved in the rescue operations, told Reuters.

“There is a thick fog here now. We are sending a search and rescue team using ropes in the gorge where parts of the plane fell and was on fire,” KC said.

Rescuers have collected what appear to be human remains and sent them for DNA testing, he said, but search efforts will continue until all 72 passengers and crew are found.

Search teams recovered 68 bodies on the day of the crash, while two more bodies were recovered on Monday before the search was called off.

“There were small children among the passengers. Some may have been burned and died, or may not be found. We will continue to search for them,” said KC.

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

Medical personnel wearing personal protective equipment and masks helped transport wrapped bodies from stretchers to a vehicle before being flown to Kathmandu, Reuters photos show.

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

Dr Tulsi Kandel of Kathmandu Teaching Hospital said it could take up to a week to complete autopsies on all 48 bodies – half of them charred.

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

Reuters Graphics

Under international aviation rules, the accident investigation agencies of the countries where the aircraft and engines were designed and manufactured are automatically part of the investigation.

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

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

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

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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