In what is perhaps the worst plane crash in the history of Nepal, 68 passengers and 72 crew members onboard the Yeti Airlines YT691 died on Sunday morning. The ATR 72 plane, which was travelling from Kathmandu to Pokhara, crashed near the Pokhara International Airport on Sunday. The aircraft crashed into the forested land on the banks of the Seti Gandaki river.
Among the dead, 15 people were foreigners. That included 5 Indians, 4 Russians, 2 South Koreans, 1 Australian, 1 French and 1 Argentinian national. One of those whose death was first reported was 33-year-old Russian vlogger and traveller Elena Banduro. As fate would have it, Elena, just minutes before the crash, had posted a photo of herself on her Instagram account, with the caption, "GO TO NEPAL!"
Elena was pregnant at the time of death. Her sister Ksenia told the Russian media outlet KP RU that the blogger had flown to Nepal to see her husband, Mirror reported.
What we know about Elena: According to her Facebook bio, Elena was the head of social media marketing at a Russia-based company.
Prior to this, she held the title of public relations specialist at a separate firm, with her social media accounts filled with her global travel adventures.
In October 2022, Elena had travelled to Caucasus Nature Reserve, a Russian nature sanctuary covering a mountainous section of Northwest Caucasus mountains.
She was in Nepal for yet another adventure.
A conversation with her sister: A day prior to the tragedy, Elena also had a word with her sister, Ksenia.
Ksenia said that Elena shared with her about boarding the Yeti airplane. "At 4.59 am (Moscow time), she wrote to me, 'Good morning, in Nepal, 7.44 am. I go to the airport area, now I have a flight to the city of Pokhara'."
She also said that it was only last week that Elena had told her family about her being pregnant.
Her friends, who heard the news of her demise, are left distraught.
Last post on Instagram: On her Instagram account, her last post is dated January 5. The caption, translated from Russian, reads, "Turn up the sound."
Her Instagram has photos and videos from places from Kazakhstan, Crimea, to the Iturup island and Adam's Peak in Sri Lanka.
What the Russian authorities say: Earlier, the Russian ambassador to Nepal, Alexie Novikov confirmed the death of four Russians on the plane.
Along with Elena, three other Russians, Viktoria Altunina, Yuri Lugin and Viktor Lagin were also on the Yeti Airlines flight.
Novikov said that he was in constant touch with the Nepalese authorities and would provide all the necessary assistance to the relatives of the dead Russians.
The worst plane crash: Local residents who rushed to the spot to evacuate people from the crash site said they couldn't do so because of the heavy smoke and fire.
"The flames were so hot that we couldn't go near the wreckage. I heard a man crying for help but because the flames and smoke, we couldn't help him," Bishnu Tiwari, a localite who was at the site of the crash, said.
It was also not clear what caused the plane crash.
No survivors: Out of the 72 people on the Yeti Airlines flight, authorities say it seems no one made it out alive. 68 bodies have been recovered so far and 4 are still missing.