An Australian passenger feared dead after the plane he was on crashed into a gorge near a popular Nepalese resort town, killing 68 of the 72 people on board, is a teacher and avid traveller from Sydney.
Myron William Love was onboard the doomed ATR72 Yeti Airlines flight that crashed while approaching to land at the newly opened airport in the town of Pokhara on Sunday.
Although Nepalese authorities said 68 of the 72 people on board had been killed, there are unconfirmed reports several people had survived – although critically injured – so Mr Love’s family are still holding out hope he was among them.
Mr Love was among 15 non-Nepalese nationals on board the domestic flight from Kathmandu, along with five Indians, four Russians, one Irish national, two South Koreans, one French national and an Argentinian.
Sydney man Myron Love (pictured) was onboard the Yeti Airlines flight as it crashed in Nepal on Sunday
Rescuers gather at the site of a plane crash in Pokhara today
Crowds gather at the crash site of an aircraft carrying 72 people in Pokhara in western Nepal
The horrific crash was the small Himalayan nation’s worst air disaster in three decades.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tweeted on Monday afternoon: ‘Incredibly sad news out of Nepal of a plane crashing with many passengers on board.
‘The government is aware an Australian was on board and is urgently seeking information from Nepalese officials on the welfare of that passenger.’
That message was reiterated by senior officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
A relative of Mr Love declined to comment until Australian embassy officials confirm his fate. ‘We’re not saying anything until the consulate has confirmed the body.’
According to posts on social media, Mr Love is an avid traveller and sports enthusiast with a passion for cycling, surfing and photography.
His Instagram account is filled with beautiful travel photos including mountain ranges, fields, lakes, and pastel sunsets.
The last photos of Mr Love posted online shows him celebrating the New Year in Thailand with a bunch of friends, cycling through the countryside and drinking beers in a Chiang Mai bar.
The images were only shared six days ago by a friend of Mr Love. ‘And just like that we’re back in the shop today after another epic cycling/eating/drinking holiday in the beautiful mountains of Thailand.’
A photo posted on Instagram shows Mr Love enjoying a New Years trip to Thailand with friends
Harrowing footage showed the doomed plane making a sharp tilt to the left before plummeting to the ground seconds later with a loud thud, following by screams from witnesses.
Onboard footage later emerged from a passenger who was live-streaming, showing those in the cabin at ease until the sudden twist of the plane and almost immediate impact with the ground.
Local television showed thick black smoke billowing from the crash site as rescue workers and crowds of people gathered around the wreckage of the aircraft.
It was not immediately clear what caused the plane to crash.
Aviation expert Ron Bartsch told the Today show that Nepal landings are difficult due to the high elevation of the country at the foot of the Himalayas, with the thinner air producing a risk of engines stalling if speed was not maintained.
Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal called an emergency cabinet meeting to set up a panel to investigate the disaster.
He also urged security personnel and the general public to help with rescue efforts.
‘Rescue operations are on. Weather was clear,’ said Jagannath Niroula, a spokesman for Nepal civil aviation authority, which confirmed the latest death toll as 64.
Elsewhere, Gurudatta Dhakal, assistant chief official of Kaski district, said some survivors had been taken to hospital.
Hundreds of rescue workers continue to scour the hillside site where the plane went down.
The plane, operated by domestic carrier Yeti Airlines (pictured) was 15 years old, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24
44 bodies are reported to have been recovered from the wreckage of the plane
Local TV showed rescue workers scrambling around broken sections of the aircraft. Some of the ground near the crash site was scorched, with licks of flames visible.
‘The plane is burning,’ said police official Ajay K.C., adding that rescue workers were having difficulty reaching the site in a gorge between two hills near the tourist town’s airport.
Situated 200km west of the Nepal capital, Pokhara is the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit, a popular hiking trail in the Himalayas.
Its new international airport began operations a fortnight ago.
The craft made contact with the airport from Seti Gorge at 10:50 a.m. (0505 GMT), the aviation authority said in a statement. ‘Then it crashed.’
‘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.
Locals watch the wreckage of a passenger plane in Pokhara
Life in the central resort of Pokhara has ground to a standstill after the shocking crash earlier today
Hundreds of onlookers rushed to the crash site, where the remains of the plane were engulfed in flames
‘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.
The crash is Nepal’s deadliest since March 2018, when a US-Bangla Dash 8 turboprop flight from Dhaka crashed on landing in Kathmandu, killing 51 of the 71 people on board, according to Aviation Safety Network.
In May 2022, all 22 people died on board a plane operated by Nepali carrier Tara Air – including 16 Nepalis, four Indians and two Germans – when it crashed o a slope.
There were 72 people on the twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft operated by Yeti in Sunday’s disaster, including two infants and four crew members, said airline spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula.
The plane was 15 years old, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.
‘We expect to recover more bodies,’ said army spokesman Krishna Bhandari. ‘The plane has broken into pieces.’
Russian Ambassador to Nepal Alexei Novikov confirmed the death of four Russians aboard the crashed plane.
‘Unfortunately, four citizens of the Russian Federation died. We are in constant contact with the Nepalese authorities and will provide all necessary assistance to the relatives of the dead Russians,’ he said.
So far, rescue workers have recovered the remains of 44 people from the crash site, with many more unaccounted for
Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said he was ‘deeply saddened by the sad and tragic accident’ and held an emergency cabinet meeting
A South Korean embassy official said: ‘Two South Koreans are on the list of passengers. We are trying to confirm whether they were actually on board and their identities.’
Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal said he was ‘deeply saddened by the sad and tragic accident.’
Nepalese Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia tweeted condolences.
‘The loss of lives in a tragic plane crash in Nepal is extremely unfortunate. My thoughts & prayers are with the families of the bereaved,’ said the official.
The Chinese ambassador to Nepal, Chen Song also expressed his shock.
‘At this difficult time, our thoughts are with Nepali people. I would like to express my deep condolences to the victims, and sincere sympathies to the bereaved families,’ he wrote.
The ATR72 is a widely used twin engine turboprop plane manufactured by a joint venture of Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo. Yeti Airlines has a fleet of six ATR72-500 planes, according to its website.
Air accidents are not uncommon in Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest, as the weather can change suddenly and make for hazardous conditions.
Thick plumes of smoke followed in the aftermath of the tragic crash
The plane crashed into a gorge after takeoff from the Pokhara International Airport
Prime Minister Dahal has called an emergency cabinet meeting after the plane crash, a government statement said.
Nepal’s air industry has boomed in recent years, carrying goods and people between hard-to-reach areas as well as foreign trekkers and climbers.
But it has been plagued by poor safety due to insufficient training and maintenance.
The European Union has banned all Nepali carriers from its airspace over safety concerns.
The Himalayan country also has some of the world’s most remote and tricky runways, flanked by snow-capped peaks with approaches that pose a challenge even for accomplished pilots.
Aircraft operators have said Nepal lacks infrastructure for accurate weather forecasts, especially in remote areas with challenging mountainous terrain where deadly crashes have taken place in the past.
The weather can also change quickly in the mountains, creating treacherous flying conditions.