NEWS Nepal plane crash searchers rappel, fly drone in last-ditch effort to find two

Nepal plane crash searchers rappel, fly drone in last-ditch effort to find two

KATHMANDU, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Searchers used drones to rappel from a 200-meter (656-foot) deep canyon in Nepal’s second city on Tuesday in search of two unaccounted-for people after the country At least 70 people were killed in the worst plane crash in 30 years.

Rough terrain and bad weather have hampered rescue efforts near the tourist city of Pokhara when a Yeti Airlines ATR 72 turboprop plane carrying 72 people crashed in clear weather on Sunday just before landing.

Rescue teams were also trying to find the bodies, Ajay KC, a Pokhara police official involved in the rescue effort, told Reuters.

“There’s thick fog here right now. We’re sending search and rescue crews using ropes into the canyon where the plane partially fell and caught fire,” KC said.

Rescuers collected what appeared to be human remains and sent them for DNA testing, but the search would continue until all 72 passengers and crew were found, he said.

Search teams found 68 bodies on the day of the crash and two more on Monday before the search was called off.

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

An airport official said 48 bodies were transported to the capital Kathmandu on Tuesday and sent to hospitals for autopsies, while 22 more were handed over to families in Pokhara.

Reuters images showed medics in personal protective equipment and masks helping to transport the shrouded body from a stretcher to a car before being flown to Kathmandu.

Television channels showed relatives weeping outside a hospital in Pokhara as they awaited the remains of their loved ones.

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

Searchers found a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder on the plane on Monday, both in good condition, a finding that could help investigators determine the cause of the crash.

Reuters pictures

Under international aviation rules, the crash investigation agency of the country where the plane and engine were designed and built is automatically part of the investigation.

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

Air crash investigators in France and Canada said they planned to take part in the investigation.

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

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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