In India’s Ghazipur city, Sonu Jaiswal’s family is distraught and still waiting to receive his body.
“It’s a tough wait,” said his brother, Deepak Jaiswal.
Sonu Jaiswal, 25, was on the Yeti Airlines flight from Kathmandu that plummeted into a gorge just as it was scheduled to land in Pokhara on Sunday, killing all 72 on board.
Moments before the deadly crash, Jaiswal was livestreaming the plane’s landing on Facebook.
As per reports, at least 66 people were killed in the crash, including 5 Indians. pic.twitter.com/SFuXnF3pCy
— Moneycontrol (@moneycontrolcom) January 16, 2023
The 90-second smartphone video began with the aircraft approaching the runway by flying over buildings and green fields over Pokhara in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Everything looked normal as Jaiswal’s video shifted from the picturesque views seen from the plane’s window to fellow passengers who were laughing. Finally, Jaiswal, wearing a yellow sweater, turned the camera to himself and smiled.
Then it happened.
The plane suddenly appeared to veer towards its left as Jaiswal’s phone briefly captured the cries of passengers. Within seconds, the footage turned shaky and recorded the screeching sound of an engine.
Towards the end of the video, huge flames and smoke took over the frame.
The news of Jaiswal’s plane crashing in Pokhara reached his home barely minutes after the accident as news channels began broadcasting images of the aircraft’s mangled wreckage, still burning and billowing thick grey smoke, his brother Deepak said.
Still, the family was not willing to trust the news, holding out hope for his survival.
By Sunday evening, however, it had become clear. Deepak, who confirmed the authenticity of Jaiswal’s livestream to The Associated Press news agency, was among the first in his family to watch the video that had since gone viral on the internet.
“We couldn’t believe the news until we saw the video,” he said. “It was painful.”
Their father, Rajendra Prasad Jaiswal, left for Kathmandu on Monday evening to receive his son’s body.
Sonu Jaiswal, a father of three children, worked at a liquor store in Alawalpur Afga village in Ghazipur, a district in the northern Uttar Pradesh state nearly 430km (270 miles) from the crash site in Nepal.
Deepak said his brother had gone to Kathmandu to visit Pashupatinath temple – a Hindu shrine dedicated to God Shiva – and pray for a son, before setting off to Pokhara for sightseeing along with three other friends.
“He was not just my brother,” Deepak said. “I have lost a friend in him.”
Sunday’s crash is part of a deadly pattern in Nepal, a country that has seen a series of air crashes over the years, in part due to difficult terrain, bad weather and ageing fleets.
The tragedy was felt deeply in the Himalayan nation, to which 53 passengers belonged.
Officials said on Wednesday there was no chance of finding any survivors of the country’s deadliest plane crash in 30 years, but workers will continue to search for the remains of the last missing passenger.
“There is no possibility of finding any survivor. We have collected 71 bodies so far. The search for the last one will continue,” Tek Bahadur KC, a top district official in Pokhara, said.