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Vigil Held in Aotea Square to Honour the 72 Killed in Plane Crash

Candlelight Vigil at Aotea Square (Photo: Supplied)

Dr Malini Yugendran

Auckland, January 17, 2023

More than 60 people attended the candlelight vigil initiated by Milan Thapa, yesterday at the Aotea Square. They gathered to honour of those who were killed in a flight crashed in Nepal on Sunday.

Black box recovered

There were 72 passengers and crew members travelling on the Yeti Airlines plane from Kathmandu to the popular tourist destination of Pokhara when it crashed. Nobody survived what has been described as the nation’s deadliest aviation accident in 30 years. According to Nepal’s civil aviation authorities, there were 37 males, 25 females, three children, and three new-borns onboard the flight. Nepal declared the 16th of January 2023 as the national mourning day.

Nepal’s Honorary Consul to New Zealand, Mr Dinesh Khadka (Photo: Supplied)

Indian Newslink spoke to the Nepal’s Honorary Consul to New Zealand, Mr Dinesh Khadka who said that “both the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder have been found at the site of the plane crash. A five-member committee has been set up to investigate the crash.” Meanwhile, authorities are also working to fast-track insurances to provide some form of support for families who have lost a loved one. Mr Khadka said that there is a substantial number of Pokhara natives who live in New Zealand, but none have a connection to those who died in this tragedy. Mr. Khadka estimates that there are around 15000 Nepalese residing in Aotearoa.

Crash site at Pokhara on 16 January 2023. (Photo: AFP in RNZ)

Air safety needs attention

There have been a number of plane crashes in Nepal over the years, some of the most notable ones include:

In July 1992, an Airbus operated by Thai Airways crashed on approach to Kathmandu, killing all 99 passengers and 14 crew members.

In September 1992, An Airbus operated by Pakistan International Airlines crashed while landing in the Kathmandu airport and killed all 167 people on board.

In May 2012, a Sita Air Dornier aircraft crashed while taking off from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, killing all 19 people on board.

In March 2018, a US-Bangla Airlines crashed while landing at Tribhuvan International Airport, killing 49 of the 71 people on board.

In May 2022, a Tara Air aircraft was crash landed in killing all 22 people on board.

Mr Khadka said that “Nepal’s air safety needs improvement. Our flights are not old, but we need maintenance procedures and strict safety protocol to be put in place.”

Anju Khatiwada (Photo: Facebook)

Co-pilot who died had lost her pilot husband to another crash

Anju Khatiwada, 44, who had lost her husband Dipak Pokharel, in a Yeti Airlines plane crash in 2006, was co-piloting the aircraft. The Guardian reports that Khatiwada paid for her pilot training with the proceeds from her husband’s life insurance. She planned to become a chief pilot upon arrival at the Pokhara International Airport. She had acquired more than 6400 hours of flight experience.

Dr Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Auckland.

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