A search and rescue operation has been underway in Nepal following a deadly plane crash that once again highlights the dangers of air travel in a country often referred to as one of the riskiest places to fly.
Of 72 people on board, at least 69 were killed and their bodies recovered after a Yeti Airlines flight crashed near the city of Pokhara Sunday.
Hundreds of emergency personnel on Monday took part in the search and recovery mission, which has been paused and will resume on Tuesday morning, Nepal Army spokesperson Krishna Prasad Bhandari said.
Kaski District Police Chief Superintendent Ajay KC said earlier Monday that the chance of finding survivors was “extremely low” as workers used a crane to pull bodies from the gorge.
Forty-one victims have now been identified, according to the airline. Their remains will be handed over to their family members, airline officials and local police said.
The autopsies were delayed because a team of forensic experts didn’t reach Pokhara until Monday afternoon local time.
Two South Korean citizens are presumed to be among those killed in the crash, based on their belongings, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Nepali authorities said the bodies presumed to be foreigners would be taken to Kathmandu where they will go through the necessary inspections and be identified.
The crash is the worst air disaster in the Himalayan nation in 30 years. It is also the third-worst aviation accident in Nepal’s history, according to data from the Aviation Safety Network.
Experts say conditions such as inclement weather, low visibility and mountainous topography all contribute to Nepal’s reputation as notoriously dangerous for aviation.