Kathmandu, Nepal – Prakash Sunuwar was an aspiring actor based in the capital Kathmandu. He worked as a trekking guide to help her achieve her dream. The 37-year-old often used to have foreign clients, taking them to exotic Himalayan landscapes.
On Sunday, he was accompanied by two German tourists – Meike Graf Grit and Uwe Willner – on a flight to Jomsom, a popular trekking and pilgrimage destination in the Mustang district on the Tibet border.
But Tara Air flight 9N-AET crashed less than 20 minutes after taking off from Pokhara – a bustling tourist town about 200 km (124 miles) west of the capital Kathmandu.
Nepalese authorities were able to recover 21 bodies from the site of the Sanosware Cliff wreckage at an altitude of 14,500ft in Thasang-2, a village in Mustang district, on Monday. The last body was recovered Tuesday morning.
Last Wednesday, Sunuwar told Roshan Bantawa, his best friend and dance buddy, that he would be away for a month to take travelers to Pokhara and then Mustang.
“That was the last time everyone saw him at the dance studio, I didn’t know he wouldn’t be back,” Bantawa told Al Jazeera by phone. The two German tourists also died in the accident.
Bantawa has fond memories of his friend whose life was cut short by the Tara Air plane crash on Sunday.
“He was very active, loved to sing, dance, act and also a good writer,” he said.
Sunuwar also had a keen eye for the camera and starred in two YouTube series, one titled Khai Ke, Khai Ke (Confusions and Riddles in Nepali), with over 18,000 channel subscribers and over 10,000 views on an episode from the last two months. He also had over 3,500 followers on TikTok.
On Friday, in his latest Facebook status, he posted a photo with a dance step, “Show real life everyone will dance happily. Show a false life and you are wrong. I thank God that even in these circumstances, you are with me.
Sunuwar, from Okhaldhunga district in eastern Nepal, is survived by two children – a four-year-old son and an eight-year-old daughter. Just two weeks ago, Sunuwar hosted his son’s birthday party with close friends and family.
On the same flight were seven family members of Rajan Kumar Golay. Golay accompanied by his family members, including his elderly parents, was on a pilgrimage to Muktinath, a temple sacred to Hindus and Buddhists.
Golay’s Facebook has been inundated with heartfelt obituaries from loved ones, extended family and friends – along with a photo of the deceased family, posing in front of a plane at the airport.
His nephew Jwala Golay said the last time he saw his uncle and grandparents was a week ago. “I lost what I thought I would never lose. My uncle and my grandparents were very nice. They helped everyone and God took them away from us,” he told Al Jazeera via text message.
By early Monday, army helicopters and mountain rescue teams had resumed operations after being hampered on Sunday due to poor weather conditions.
More than 60 people comprising the Nepalese army, police and mountain guides have been rushed to recover the bodies following the air tragedy.
None of the 22 people on board the plane survived the crash. Army spokesman Narayan Silwal released videos and photos showing the wreckage of the plane in the Mustang district.
“The bodies were strewn all around with the impact of the crash smashing the plane into pieces,” international rescuer and mountain guide Narendra Shahi told Al Jazeera.
Ten of the bodies found were transported to Kathmandu and sent for autopsy. The rest of the bodies could not be brought in due to poor weather conditions and are expected to be transported on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Nepalese government on Monday formed a commission to investigate the accident.
“Although we believe it was weather conditions, we still cannot confirm the exact reason for the accident. This needs to be investigated,” said Deo Chandra Lal Karn, deputy general manager of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, to Al Jazeera.
Six of the people on board were foreigners, including four Indians and two Germans. In 2016, Tara Air had a similar incident while flying to the same destination – the accident killed all 23 passengers on board.
Experts say Nepal’s extreme weather and harsh terrain are the main causes of plane crashes in the country.
“Airmen cannot control the terrain or the weather. In the high mountain areas, the weather conditions are unpredictable while the terrains are difficult,” Sajib Gautam, aviation expert and former director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, told Al Jazeera.
“We have to cross extremely narrow gorges to get to most rural airports in the mountains and if the weather gets worse we can’t safely take turns.”
Gautam also does not rule out other factors causing such accidents.
“Accidents happen in a chain of events. Therefore, many factors are involved in an accident. The airlines, their workforce and their culture are also to blame. We can’t just blame the pilot.