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2 Koreans in Nepal plane crash confirmed dead

A rescue team recovers the body of a victim from the site of the plane crash of a Yeti Airlines-operated plane in Pokhara, Nepal on Jan. 16. (Reuters-Yonhap)
A rescue team recovers the body of a victim from the site of the plane crash of a Yeti Airlines-operated plane in Pokhara, Nepal on Jan. 16. (Reuters-Yonhap)

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Monday evening a teenage Korean -- who remained missing from a plane that crashed into a gorge on Sunday while making a 27-minute flight to a Nepalese tourist town northwest of the capital Kathmandu -- also died, along with his father found dead earlier in the day.

The Korean consul in Nepal confirmed the bodies of the father and his son who were flying for a family vacation, at the Gandaki Medical College hospital in Pokhara, the destination that the twin-engine ATR 72 aircraft carrying 72 people was set to land at after taking off from the capital. At least 68, including the two Koreans, died in the Himalayan country’s deadliest plane crash since 1992.

Nepalese authorities are expected to officially “identify and examine” all the foreign bodies after taking them to the capital. They will then hand them over to the respective countries. Fifteen foreign nationals aboard the plane included two Koreans, five Indians, four Russians and one each from Argentina, Australia, France and Ireland.

Sunday’s tragedy also included a Nepalese who had dedicated his life to teaching Korean to the Nepalese people. According to the Korean group promoting Won Buddhism, the Korean adaption of the religion, one of its Nepalese monks who had taught the language for the last 14 years died in the crash, along with his teenage daughter.

Meanwhile, Monday’s search retrieved the black boxes, the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder. They were in “good condition,” rescuers said, raising hopes for a speedy investigation into what caused the plane to crash in clear weather.

Human error is cited as one of potential causes, as pilots find it harder to land in Nepal, given the mountainous terrain and sudden weather changes. The country, home to Mount Everest and several other of the tallest mountains in the world, has a history of deadly plane crashes, with the combined death toll since 2000 coming close to 350 people who died from either plane or helicopter crashes.

Since 2013, the European Union has banned Nepalese airlines from entering into its airspace, citing safety concerns. The 27-nation bloc still demands the country do more to improve its safety standards, even after the International Civil Aviation Organization in 2017 noted the improvements Nepal had made.



By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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