14 identified, six handed over to kin
POKHARA, Feb 26: Rescue workers have recovered the bodies of all 23 passengers and crew of the Tara Air Twin Otter plane as of Thursday afternoon, despite the difficult terrain and bad weather.
Tara Air media relations manager Bhim Raj Rai informed that of the bodies recovered from the crash site, 14 have been identified by kin but only six bodies had been handed over to them by late evening.
Similarly, the bodies of Binita Bhattachan, Krishna Lal Bhattachan and an infant of theirs were handed over to kin in Mustang after being airlifted there directly from Dana VDC, where the crash occured.
Bodies were also handed over to kin at Pokhara, including those of Muktinath Bastola of Pokhara, Balkrishna Nyure of Baglung and Kamala Thakali of Mustang.
According to SSP Mahendra Kumar Pokharel, acting chief of Western Regional Police Office, the bodies of Motibahadur KC of Syangja, Rajkumar Tamang of Itahari, Rewati Baral of Pokhara and Ralrashed Ahamad Aa of Kuwait have also been identified.
Bodies still unidentified have been kept at Western Regional Hospital for postmortem and other investigations, SSP Pokharel informed. Tara Air officials informed that the remaining unidentified bodies will be airlifted to Kathmandu for DNA tests and other examinations.
According to DSP Bishwamani Pokharel of Metropolitan Police Circle Office, Maharajgunj, the bodies of the crew members that were airlifted to Kathmandu were not handed over to the families because of time constraints and technical problems. The bodies are likely to be handed over on Friday.
Risky recovery work
The search and rescue operations launched following the air crash on Wednesday were full of risks, according to security personnel deployed in Dana. Nineteen of the bodies were recovered on Wednesday itself.
Arjun Basnet, battalion commander at Nepal Army's Bhimdal Barracks at Jomsom, informed that all the bodies were first collected at a temporary helipad near the crash site and then airlifted out.
"As the wind was blowing harder, we feared that the weather would worsen and we hurriedly made two flights to collect the bodies from the crash site," said Battalion Commander Basnet.
The location in Dana where the bodies were brought before being sent to different places, is around 50 km from Jomsom, headquarters of Mustang district. From there, the bodies were taken by helicopter to Pokhara, according to Basnet.
The ill-fated Twin Otter (call sign 9N-AHH) bound for Jomsom crashed at Solighopte cliffs in Dana VDC, Myagdi district, Wednesday, killing all on board. Among the deceased were the three crew members, two infants, a Kuwaiti national and a Chinese.
The Twin Otter had taken off from Pokhara airport at 7:50 am and was scheduled to land at Jomsom airport at 8:11 am. But, 11 minutes after take-off, it went out of contact from both Pokhara and Jomsom airports.
A team of security personnel deployed in the search for the plane found the crash site at Dana VDC at around 2:30 p.m.