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Flight data retrieved from Nepal crash site

by The Associated Press | January 17, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
The body of a victim of Sunday's plane crash is carried out of a morgue in Pokhara, Nepal, Monday, Jan 16, 2023. At least 69 of the 72 people aboard were killed, and officials believe the three missing are also dead. Rescuers combed through the debris, scattered down a 300-meter-deep (984-foot-deep) gorge, for them. (AP Photo/Yunish Gurung)

POKHARA, Nepal (AP) -- Search teams retrieved the flight data and cockpit voice recorders Monday of a passenger plane that plummeted into a gorge on approach to a new airport in the foothills of the Himalayas, officials said, as investigators looked for the cause of Nepal's deadliest plane crash in 30 years.

At least 69 of the 72 people aboard were killed, and officials believe the three missing are also dead. Rescuers combed through the debris, scattered down a 984-foot-deep gorge, for them.

Many of the passengers on Sunday's flight were returning home to Pokhara, though the city is also popular with tourists since it's the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit hiking trail. On Monday evening, relatives and friends were still gathered outside a local hospital, some shouting at officials to speed up the post mortems so they could hold funerals for their loved ones. Later, some did receive the bodies of relatives.

It's still not clear what caused the crash, which took place less than a minute's flight from the airport on a mild day with little wind.

In footage taken by a passenger out of a window as the plane came in for a landing, buildings, roads and greenery are visible below. The video, by Sonu Jaiswal and verified by The Associated Press, then shows a violent jolt and a series of jerky images accompanied by yelling before flames fill the screen.

The twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft, operated by Nepal's Yeti Airlines, was completing the 27-minute flight from the capital, Kathmandu, to Pokhara. It was carrying 68 passengers, including 15 foreign nationals, as well as four crew members, Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement. The foreigners included five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans, and one each from Ireland, Australia, Argentina and France.

Jagannath Niraula, a spokesman for the authority, said the flight recorders will be handed over to investigators. Pemba Sherpa, spokesperson for Yeti Airlines, confirmed the flight data and the cockpit voice recorders were found.

  photo  A man holds a candle during a vigil in memory of victims of a plane crash in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Nepal began a national day of mourning Monday as rescue workers resumed the search for six missing people a day after a plane to a tourist town crashed into a gorge while attempting to land at a newly opened airport, killing at least 66 of the 72 people aboard in the country's deadliest airplane accident in three decades. (AP Photo/Bikram Rai)
 
 
  photo  People observe a candlelight vigil in memory of victims of a plane crash in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Nepal began a national day of mourning Monday as rescue workers resumed the search for six missing people a day after a plane to a tourist town crashed into a gorge while attempting to land at a newly opened airport, killing at least 66 of the 72 people aboard in the country's deadliest airplane accident in three decades. (AP Photo/Bikram Rai)
 
 
  photo  People wait to receive bodies of friends and relatives, victims of a plane crash, in Pokhara, Nepal, Monday, Jan 16, 2023. Nepal began a national day of mourning Monday as rescue workers resumed the search for six missing people a day after a plane to a tourist town crashed into a gorge while attempting to land at a newly opened airport, killing at least 66 of the 72 people aboard in the country's deadliest airplane accident in three decades. (AP Photo/Yunish Gurung)
 
 
  photo  Nepalese rescue workers inspect wreckage at the site of a plane crash in Pokhara, Nepal, Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. Nepal began a national day of mourning Monday, a day after a plane crashed while attempting to land at a newly opened airport, killing at least 68 of the 72 people aboard. Rescue workers rappelled down a 300-meter (984 feet) gorge to continue the search. Two more bodies have been found Monday morning. (AP Photo/Krishna Mani Baral)
 
 
  photo  Family members receive the body of a victim of Sunday's plane crash in Pokhara, Nepal, Monday, Jan 16, 2023. At least 69 of the 72 people aboard were killed, and officials believe the three missing are also dead. Rescuers combed through the debris, scattered down a 300-meter-deep (984-foot-deep) gorge, for them. (AP Photo/Yunish Gurung)
 
 
  photo  A man cries as he waits to receive the body of a victim of a plane crash, at a hospital in Pokhara, Nepal, Monday, Jan 16, 2023. Nepal began a national day of mourning Monday as rescue workers resumed the search for six missing people a day after a plane to a tourist town crashed into a gorge while attempting to land at a newly opened airport, killing at least 66 of the 72 people aboard in the country's deadliest airplane accident in three decades. (AP Photo/Yunish Gurung)
 
 
  photo  A woman wails as she waits to receive the body of a relative, victim of a plane crash, at a hospital in Pokhara, Nepal, Monday, Jan 16, 2023. Nepal began a national day of mourning Monday as rescue workers resumed the search for six missing people a day after a plane to a tourist town crashed into a gorge while attempting to land at a newly opened airport, killing at least 66 of the 72 people aboard in the country's deadliest airplane accident in three decades. (AP Photo/Yunish Gurung)
 
 

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