Nepal Crash: Rescuers Close To Wreckage, No Word Yet On Passengers; ‘10 Days Together In A Year’ For Odisha Family

Kathmandu/Bhubaneswar: Nepal Army personnel on Monday located the wreckage of the aircraft that crashed on Sunday with 22 people onboard, including a family of four from Odisha.

Search operations, halted on Sunday due to snowfall, resumed on Monday morning, the Nepal Army said. “Search and rescue troops have physically located the plane crash site,” it said.

According to latest reports, the Nepal Army, which is leading the search operations, said “with the weather getting better, the search team will soon reach the crash site”.

There is no official word yet on the fate of the passengers and crew members. But senior government officials in Kathmandu said they were “prepared for the worst”. There were 19 passengers and three crew members — two pilots and an airhostess — onboard the Tara Air Twin-Otter (9N-AET). The family from Odisha were the only Indians onboard. The other passengers included two Germans and 13 Nepali nationals.

The aircraft went missing on Sunday soon after taking off from Pokhara on a short flight to Jomsom.

The wreckage was located in Kowang village of Mustang district. The Nepal Army shared the plane crash site at Sanosware, Thasang-2, Mustang.

The family from Odisha who were on the flight are Ashok Kumar Tripathy (53), his wife Vaibhavi Bandekar Tripathy (51) and their children Dhanush (24) and Ritika (15).

Vaibhavi and the children live in Thane near Mumbai. She works at a private firm in Mumbai. Ashok had moved back to his home state Odisha, where he works as an HR consultant at Infosys in the state capital. Ashok is from Sonepur in Odisha. Dhanush is an engineering graduate. The family was holidaying in Nepal and were supposed to return in a few days.

“I met them in Kathmandu on May 27. They were very excited and we had dinner together. Later, they went to Pashupatinath temple. On May 28, they travelled from Kathmandu to Pokhara by road. On Sunday, their flight was to depart at 6 am from Pokhara but the takeoff was delayed by bad weather,” Sagar Acharya, their tour manager from Kailash Vision Trek, told The Indian Express from Kathmandu.

According to The Indian Express report, the couple “were separated and as per court orders, the children had to spend 10 days with their father every year” and this time “they were headed to Muktinath in Nepal”.

The family’s driver, 29-year-old Ashish Sawant, who had dropped them at Mumbai airport, is in shock. “I have lost everything,” he told PTI.

Sawant, who lives in Thane, told PTI that he has been working as the family’s driver for the last seven years and drops Vaibhavi to her office in Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai.

“It was just two days back that I dropped the family at the Mumbai airport and today I received this shocking news,” he said.

After hearing the news, he rushed to their house in Rustomjee Athena apartment in Balkum area of Thane to enquire about them.

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