Aspiring actor and tourist among 22 killed in Nepal plane crash


Kathmandu, Nepal – Prakash Sunwar was an aspiring actor based in the capital, Kathmandu. He worked as a tour guide to help realize his dream. The 37-year-old often used to get foreign clients, taking them to exotic landscapes in the Himalayas.

On Sunday, he was accompanied by two German tourists – Mike Graf Great and Uwe Wellner – on a trip to Jomsom, a popular trekking and pilgrimage destination in the Mustang region bordering Tibet.

But Tara Air 9N-AET Flight crashed Less than 20 minutes after taking off from Pokhara – a busy tourist town some 200 kilometers (124 miles) west of the capital, Kathmandu.

Authorities in Nepal on Monday managed to retrieve 21 bodies from the wreck site at Sanoswer Cliff at an altitude of 14,500 feet in Thasang-2, a village in Mustang District. The last body was recovered Tuesday morning.

Twin Otter passenger plane at Lukla Airport with Mount Everest in the background in eastern Nepal.
A Yeti Airlines Twin Otter passenger plane is seen at Lukla Airport, also known as Hillary Tensing Airport, near Mount Everest (in the background) in eastern Nepal [File: Gopal Chitrakar/Reuters]

Last Wednesday, Sinwar told Roshan Pantawa, his close friend and dance buddy, that he would be out for a month with some travelers to Pokhara and then Mustang.

“It was the last time everyone saw him in the dance studio, I didn’t know he wouldn’t be back,” Pantawa told Al Jazeera by phone. The two German tourists also died in the accident.

Pantawa has fond memories of his friend whose life died in the Tara Air crash on Sunday.

“He was very energetic, loves to sing, dance, perform and is also a good writer,” he said.

Sunuwar also has the acumen for being in front of the camera and has acted in two YouTube series, one called Khai Ke, Khai Ke (Confusion and Mysteries in Nepali), with over 18,000 channel subscribers and over 10,000 episode views in the past two months. He also has more than 3,500 followers on TikTok.

On Friday, in his latest Facebook status, he posted a photo with a dance move, “Show the real life everyone will dance happily. Show the fake life you’re deceiving yourself. I thank God that you are with me even in these circumstances.”

Plane crash in Nepal
This photo posted by Fishtail Air shows a plane wreck in a gorge in Sanosware in the Mustang district near the mountain town of Jomsom, west of Kathmandu, Nepal [Fishtail Air via AP]

Sonwar was survived by Okhaldhunga district in eastern Nepal by two children – a four-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter. Just two weeks ago, Sunuwar organized his son’s birthday along with close friends and family.

Seven members of the Rajan Kumar Gulay family were on the same flight. Accompanied by members of his family, including his elderly parents, Gulay was on a pilgrimage to Muktinath, a temple sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists.

Golay’s Facebook was filled with heartfelt obituaries from his loved ones, family, and friends – with a photo of the deceased family, in front of a plane at the airport.

His nephew Jwala Gulay said the last time he saw his uncle and grandparents was a week ago. “I lost what I thought I would never lose. My uncle and grandparents were so sweet. They helped everyone and God kept them away from us,” he told Al Jazeera via text message.

“ scattered corpses

Early Monday, helicopters and army rescue teams resumed operations after being disrupted on Sunday by bad weather.

Over 60 Nepalese Army, Police and Mountain Guides pressured exhuming the corpses In the wake of the air tragedy.

None of the 22 people on board survived the crash, as Narayan Silwal, an army spokesman, released videos and photos showing the wreckage of the plane in the Mustang area.

“Bodies were scattered everywhere with the impact of the crash that smashed the plane to pieces,” rescuer and international mountain guide Narendra Shahi told Al Jazeera.

Ten of the bodies found were taken to Kathmandu and sent for autopsy. The rest of the bodies could not be retrieved due to bad weather and are likely to be removed on Tuesday.

On the other hand, the Nepalese government on Monday set up a commission to investigate the incident.

“While we believe it is the weather condition, we cannot confirm the exact cause of the crash. This matter needs to be investigated,” Deo Chandra Lal Karn, deputy director general of the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority, told Al Jazeera.

Six of those on board were foreigners, including four Indians and two Germans. In 2016, Tara Air had a similar accident while flying to the same destination – the crash killed all 23 passengers on board.

Experts point to Nepal’s harsh climatic conditions and harsh terrain as the main causes of aircraft accidents in the country.

“Pilots cannot control the terrain or the weather. In the high mountainous areas, the weather is unpredictable while the terrain is challenging,” Sajib Gautam, an aviation expert and former Director General of the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority, told Al Jazeera.

“We have to go through very narrow lanes to get to most of the rural airports in the mountains, and if the weather gets bad we can’t take safe turns.”

Gautam also does not rule out other factors behind such incidents.

“Accidents happen in a chain of events. Hence a lot of factors are involved in the crash. The airlines, their manpower and their culture should also be blamed. We can’t just blame the pilot.”