Jan. 16 (UPI) — Authorities located both “black boxes” from Yeti Airlines flight 691 in western Nepal on Monday before taking a break in the search for two remaining missing passengers from the downed airliner.
A total of 70 bodies have been recovered from the crash site in Pokhara, a popular resort city in Nepal, leaving two of the 72 passengers on board unaccounted for Monday as searchers ended their efforts for the day.
The crash marks Nepal’s worst air disaster in 30 years.
Crews rappelled down nearly a thousand feet to the bottom of a gorge to recover the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, commonly known as the “black boxes,” the Press Trust of India reported.
The CVR records radio transmissions and other sounds in the cockpit, such as conversations between the pilots, engine noises and any warnings that may have sounded. The FDR records and stores more than 80 different types of information like airspeed, altitude and direction, as well as pilot actions and performance of avionics systems.
Their discovery is crucial to understanding what caused the crash.
Video shot by someone on the ground and verified by NBC News shows the French-built ATR turboprop’s final seconds as one wing begins to dip dramatically before the plane careens into the gorge.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal confirmed Monday the identities of those on board the planned 27-minute flight. Officials said they are not holding out hope the two remaining missing people will be found alive.
Of those bodies recovered, 41 had been identified and were being flown by helicopter back to the capital of Kathmandu.
The flight was carrying five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans and one person each from Argentina, Ireland, Australia and France, including six children. All four crew members and 53 passengers were from Nepal.
The plane crashed into a gorge Sunday, around one mile from Pokhara, after taking off from Kathmandu with 68 passengers and four crewmembers. The 15.5-year-old twin-engine ATR-72 aircraft was operated by Nepalese airline Yeti Airlines — its fourth owner — which took possession of the plane in 2019.
Conditions at the time of the crash were good, with low wind, clear skies and temperatures well above freezing.
Nepal declared a day of national mourning Monday. Authorities set up a panel to investigate the disaster.
The European Union bans airlines from Nepal from flying into and out of the EU or through its airspace, a measure implemented in 2013 due to concerns over the country’s safety standards.