Hours after a Yeti Airlines plane crashed in Nepal's tourist town of Pokhara on Sunday, a video shot by an Indian passenger on board, went viral showing the terrifying final moments of the flight leading up to the crash.
BOOM was able to verify that the viral footage was shot by Sonu Jaiswal, one of the five Indian passengers on board, and that it was live streamed from Jaiswal's Facebook account.
At least 68 people were killed on January 15, 2023 when Yeti Airlines flight YT691 crashed in Pokhara according to Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority. The flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara was carrying 72 on board (68 passengers and 4 crew members) including 5 Indian passengers.
Pokhara is Nepal's second largest city which falls under the Annapurna mountain range and is one of the Himalayan country's most popular tourist routes, apart from the capital Kathmandu.
The ATR 72-500 aircraft departed from Kathmandu at 10.34 AM local time and is reported to have crashed between Pokhara's domestic and international airports shortly before 11:00 AM, according to flight tracking site Radar Box. The aircraft is reported to have hit the ground in the gorge of the Seti River.
In the viral video, one of the Indian passengers can be heard excitedly shouting "mauj kar di" (we're having fun) as an aerial view of Pokhara town can be seen from the plane window.
At one point in the video, Jaiswal turns the phone camera on himself and after several seconds we can see the aircraft taking a sharp turn towards the left and then crash into flames.
Note, BOOM has cropped the viral video to leave out distressing visuals capturing the crash.
The five Indians on board were - Sanjay Jaiswal, Sonu Jaiswal, Anil Kumar Rajbhar, Abhishek Kushwaha, and Vishal Sharma, according to a passenger list of the foreigners who were on the flight. The below list was shared by Nepal Fact Check.
Of the five Indians on board four — Abhishek Kushwaha (25), Vishal Sharma (25), Anil Kumar Rajbhar (25) and Sonu Jaiswal (30) — were friends, all residents of Ghazipur district in Uttar Pradesh, while no details are available yet on the fifth person, Sanjay Jaiswal according to the Indian Express.
Visual Cues From The Video
The viral video has several cues which BOOM used to verify it.
Firstly, while watching the video, we see a poster on the back of a seat showing Nepali and Hindi film actress Manisha Koirala and Nepali actor Rajesh Hamal .
Using Google, we were able to find the full poster which is an for NIC Asia Bank.
Geo locating the video
The video also captures a brief aerial view of the city by pointing the phone camera at the aircraft window. Two large grounds that appear to be sports stadiums can be seen in the footage
Through Google Maps, BOOM was able to confirm that the stadium seen in the video is Pokhara Football Stadium and the stadium adjacent to it is Pokhara Cricket ground.
The aerial view seen in the viral video and the structure seen on Google Maps confirm they are the same. (click here to view)
Sonu Jasiwal's Facebook account
In the video, the name 'Sonu Jaiswal' alongside a profile picture showing a woman holding a baby, can be seen.
The name appears as it is a recording of a Facebook story by one of Jaiswal's Facebook connections.
We can also see that the privacy setting of the video is set to Facebook Friends only.
The account name Sonu Jaiswal matches with the name of the Indian passenger who was reported to be among the four Indians who lost their lives in the crash. Details about the whereabouts of the fifth passenger are not known yet.
Click here to view
BOOM was able to find Jaiswal's Facebook account, the profile image used is the same profile photo seen in this viral video. The Facebook account is private.
A comparison can be seen below
Additionally at one point of the camera pans to Sonu. Below is a comparison of the video with a photo from another Facebook account of his that appears to be inactive.
Sonu's cousin Rajat Jaiswal told Times of India that it was Sonu's Facebook account which live streamed after boarding the flight for Pokhara and that he was with his friends.
Nepal Fact Check spoke to Ajay Sahashit, a resident of Kathmandu, who arranges air tickets for Indian tourists in Nepal who confirmed that it was Sonu's Facebook account and that he had live-streamed the viral video.