The co-pilot in Sunday’s deadly plane crash in Nepal suffered the same fate as her husband, who died while co-piloting another plane 17 years earlier, according to reports.
Anju Khatiwada vowed to become a pilot after her husband died piloting a plane for Yeti Airlines in 2006. She joined the same airline in 2010 and achieved the rank of Captain after flying for thousands of hours, according to The New York Times. On Sunday, however, she was co-piloting a Yeti Airlines ATR 72 when it mysteriously plummeted into a river gorge barely a mile from its destination.
Footage of the crash taken by eyewitnesses near the destination airport in Pokhara, show the plane descending smoothly toward a landing before the plane’s left wing drops aggressively and the craft careens into a hill.
First responders have identified the bodies of 69 of the 72 people on board the aircraft. Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal declared a national day of mourning on Sunday and created a panel to investigate the disaster.
Sunday’s passenger list included 53 Nepali citizens, five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans, one Australian, one Argentinian, one Irish and one French, Nepali authorities said.
Searchers recovered the plane’s black boxes on Monday, granting investigators access to flight data and voice recordings just prior to the crash. The ATR 72 took off from the Nepali capital of Kathmandu at 10:32 a.m. local time and checked in again with flight controllers at 10:50. The plane is believed to have crashed soon after the check-in.
Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Mount Everest, has a long and tragic history of air crashes. According to the Flight Safety Foundation’s Aviation Safety database, there have been 42 fatal plane crashes in Nepal since 1946.
Sunday’s crash is Nepal’s worst aircraft disaster since 1992, when a plane carrying 167 people crashed near the capital, killing all on board.