The final moments of a plane in Nepal which plunged to the ground, killing at least 68 people on board, appear to have been broadcast on Facebook Live by one of its passengers.
Video appearing to show the inside of the aircraft moments before the disaster, which happened as the plane descended into the newly opened airport in the city of Pokhara.
The footage, which was purportedly taken by an Indian man called Sonu Jaiswal, shows passengers smiling as the plane flies over houses. The Yeti Airlines logo is visible over Mr Jaiswal’s shoulder and a Nepalese insurance advert can be seen on the airline’s tray.
The clip continues, before the camera suddenly starts to shake and passengers are heard shouting. It then goes black with a loud bang, before flames light up the frame.
The four people from Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur district were identified as Sonu Jaiswal, Anil Rajbhar, Abhishek Kushwaha and Vishal Sharma. Excited to share their experience on the flight, one of them can be heard saying ‘Mauj Kar Di’ in the 1:30-minute video, which is doing rounds on social media. It shows the aircraft taking a sharp turn and then bursting into flames as the camera keeps rolling.
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The veracity of the footage has not been confirmed independently, although the Times of India says it has spoken to Mr Jaiswal’s cousin, who confirmed the 29-year-old was onboard the plane.
It reports one of Mr Jaiswal’s companions, the three of which were also Indian, shouted ‘It’s real fun’ moments before the crash.
The publication quoted Mr Jaiswal’s cousin, Rajat Jaiswal, as saying: ‘Sonu was on Facebook live after boarding the flight for Pokhara. The live-streaming showed that Sonu and his companions were in a happy mood but all of a sudden flames appeared before the streaming stopped.’
The crash involved a twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft run by Yeti Airlines, which had been undertaking a half-an-hour flight from the Nepali capital Kathmandu to Pokhara.
There were 72 people on board the aircraft, which included 15 foreigners, and at least 68 are known to have died after it crashed into a gorge near the city’s new airport.
Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority said it is not known what caused the disaster as of yet.
The aviation authority said the aircraft last made contact with the airport from near Seti Gorge at 10.50am local time (5.05am GMT) before crashing.
Footage appearing to show the aircraft suddenly tilting and diving towards the ground as it made its landing approach to the airport.
A witness said he saw the aircraft spinning violently in the air after it began descending to land, watching from the terrace of his house.
Local resident Bishnu Tiwari, who rushed to the crash site near the Seti River to help search for bodies, said the rescue efforts were hampered by thick smoke and a raging fire.
‘The flames were so hot that we couldn’t go near the wreckage. I heard a man crying for help, but because of the flames and smoke we couldn’t help him,’ Tiwari said.
‘Half of the plane is on the hillside,’ said Arun Tamu, a local resident, who told Reuters he reached the site minutes after the plane went down. ‘The other half has fallen into the gorge of the Seti river.’
Khum Bahadur Chhetri said he watched from the roof of his house as the flight approached.
‘I saw the plane trembling, moving left and right, and then suddenly its nose dived and it went into the gorge,’ Chhetri told Reuters, adding that local residents took two passengers to a hospital.
Images and videos shared on Twitter showed plumes of smoke billowing from the crash site, about 1.6 kilometers (nearly a mile) away from Pokhara International Airport. The aircraft’s fuselage was split into multiple parts that were scattered down the gorge.
Firefighters carried bodies, some burned beyond recognition, to hospitals where grief-stricken relatives had assembled. At Kathmandu airport, family members appeared distraught as they were escorted in and at times exchanged heated words with officials as they waited for information.