Harrowing video has emerged of the plane that crashed in Nepal over the weekend, showing passengers’ excitement turning to terror and offering a rare glimpse into a flight's final moments.
A pair of videos verified as authentic by NBC News, one recorded inside the cabin that was posted on Facebook and another shot from the ground, show the moments before Yeti Airlines Flight 691 crashed minutes away from landing, killing at least 69 people.
Authorities said Monday that they had retrieved the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder from the wreckage. The recovery of the black boxes could offer crucial insight into what caused the twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft to crash Sunday.
The plane was bound for a 27-minute journey from the capital city, Kathmandu, to the popular tourist destination of Pokhara — about 125 miles west near the Annapurna Mountain Range.
It was carrying 68 passengers, including six children, as well as four crew members. Five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans and one person each from Argentina, Ireland, Australia and France were aboard the flight, aviation officials said in a statement.
Officials said they did not expect to find any survivors from those still missing. At least 41 bodies had been identified out of the 69 retrieved, Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.
They included Sonu Jaiswal, 32, of Ghazipur, India, who recorded the flight’s approach from his seat, according to a video verified by NBC News.
Jaiswal was traveling with three friends, Anil Rajbhar, 25, Vishal Sharma, 27 and Abhishek Kushwaha, 26, said a spokesperson for the Ghazipur district magistrate's office.
Cheering “it’s a good time” with his friends, he was trying to catch a glimpse of Pokhara from his window as the flight approached. Jaiswal, smiling as he recorded, panned the camera around the seemingly calm flight with no apparent sign of distress.
Just moments later, terrorized passengers’ screams can be heard briefly before flames engulf the screen.
NBC News was unable to immediately reach their family members for comment.
According to a separate video shot by a ground witness and geolocated by NBC News, the plane was flying low over a densely populated part of the city before it suddenly banked left and plunged from the sky.
It looked like a normal landing, said Diwas Bohora, who was casually recording the aircraft for his YouTube channel.
"Suddenly the plane went quiet and dropped from the sky," Bohora said. "I thought today's my last day," he said, adding the entire area shook violently.
The co-pilot, Anju Khatiwada, 44, had joined the airline in 2010, following her husband, who died in a crash piloting a small passenger plane four years earlier, a spokesperson for Yeti Airlines told Reuters. Khatiwada, who had more than 6,400 flying hours, had previously flown the route, the spokesperson said.
Nepal declared a day of national mourning Monday and set up a panel to investigate the disaster and suggest measures to avoid such tragedies in future.
Nepal, in the Himalayas, is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Mount Everest, and it has a long history of plane crashes.
Sunday’s crash was its deadliest since 1992, when all 167 people aboard were killed when a Pakistan International Airlines plane plowed into a hill as it tried to land in Kathmandu.
Nearly 350 people have died since 2000 in plane or helicopter crashes in Nepal, where sudden weather changes can make for hazardous conditions.
The European Union has banned airlines from Nepal from flying into the 27-nation bloc since 2013, citing weak safety standards. In 2017, the International Civil Aviation Organization cited improvements in Nepal’s aviation sector, but the E.U. continues to demand administrative reforms.