Nepal Plane Crash: Co-Pilot’s Husband Flew Same Airline, Died in Crash in 2006

Anju Khatiwada, co-pilot of the ill-fated Yeti Airlines aircraft, was to become a chief pilot on landing in Pokhara.

3 min read

Video Producer: Mayank Chawla

Video Editors: Mohd Irshad Alam, Prajjwal Kumar

Anju Khatiwada — the co-pilot of the Yeti Airlines aircraft which crashed in Nepal’s Pokhara on Sunday, 15 January — was to become a chief pilot on landing at the Pokhara International Airport, digital news website Nepalkhabar reported.

Minutes before landing, however, the ATR-72 aircraft with 68 passengers and four crew members, crashed into a river gorge at Nayagaun. Nepali authorities have so far recovered at least 68 bodies, while the search for the remaining bodies continues on Monday. 

In a tragic twist of fate, Khatiwada, who was minutes away from achieving her dream, ended up sharing her husband Deepak Pokhrel’s fate -- who had died 16 years ago in a plane crash.

"Her husband, Dipak Pokhrel, died in 2006 in a crash of a Twin Otter plane of Yeti Airlines in Jumla," airline spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula told Reuters.

"She got her pilot training with the money she got from the insurance after her husband's death," Bartaula said.

The Airlines’ 9N AEQ aircraft had crashed on 21 June 2006 on its way from Nepalganj to Jumla via Surkhet, resulting in the death of six passengers and four crew members, including co-pilot Pokhrel, as per a Nepali Times report.

Anju Khatiwada, co-pilot of the ill-fated Yeti Airlines aircraft, was to become a chief pilot on landing in Pokhara.

Crash site of plane de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300.



'Runway is Clear': Pilot Kamal KC

"Weather is beautiful. Very good visibility. The runway is clear," senior pilot KC Kamal had told the air traffic control (ATC) in Kathmandu before taking off the Yeti Airlines ATR-72 aircraft, Nepalkhabar reported.

Kamal had started his career as a trainee pilot at a twin-otter aircraft of Nepal Airlines in 1989. On Sunday, he was giving co-pilot Khatiwada her final training on the aircraft, which was making its third flight to Pokhara, before making her a pilot.

While completing the pilot course, the co-pilot is made to sit on the left seat while the pilot sits on the right.

"That's what pilot Kamal did on the plane that went to Pokhara," a pilot told Nepalkhabar.

A resident of Nepal's Biratnagar, Khatiwada was mother to a seven-year-old boy and had more than 6,400 hours of flying time.

Anju Khatiwada, co-pilot of the ill-fated Yeti Airlines aircraft, was to become a chief pilot on landing in Pokhara.

Yeti Airlines ATR-72 aircraft co-pilot Anju Khatiwada.

(Photo: Facebook/@sandeep.sapkota.12)

Since the weather was clear, it remains to be seen what the cause of the crash was.

Meanwhile, a crucial discovery of the crash, the black box — a cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder — has been found, Sher Bath Thakur, airport official in Kathmandu said.

Five Indians On Board Confirmed Dead

There were five Indian passengers on board the 72-seater aircraft, as confirmed by the Indian Embassy and airlines. All five are now confirmed to be dead.

Yeti Airlines said that the five Indians onboard have been identified as Abhisekh Kushwaha, Bishal Sharma, Anil Kumar Rajbhar, Sonu Jaiswal, and Sanjaya Jaiswal.

A purported Facebook Live by Sonu Jaiswal, an Indian passenger on the ill-fated Yeti Airlines plane, showed the aircraft taking a sharp turn before it crashed and bursting into flames on Sunday, 15 January.

Jaiswal, 29, is a resident of Uttar Pradesh's Ghazipur, and was travelling with three other friends to Pokhara from Kathmandu for paragliding.

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