London's Nepalese community holding vigil to mourn victims killed in plane crash

Although they're far away from their home country, the Nepalese community in London, Ont., is deeply feeling the loss of those who died in a plane crash earlier this month.

The candlelight vigil will be held at Victoria Park Saturday evening

Uniformed rescuers in helmets look at part of a broken plane fuselage, which is lying on the ground in a forest.
Rescuers inspect the wreckage at the site of a Yeti Airlines plane crash in Pokhara on January 16, 2023. - Nepal observed a day of mourning on January 16 for the victims of the nation's deadliest aviation disaster in three decades, with 67 people confirmed killed in the plane crash. (Photo by PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP via Getty Images) (Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images)

Although they're far away from their home country, the Nepalese community in London, Ont., is deeply feeling the loss of those who died in a plane crash earlier this month. 

The group is holding a candlelight vigil on Saturday evening to commemorate the dead at Victoria Park. The tragedy hits home for Pradeep Bastola, who was shocked to find out the deadly crash took place in his birth city, Pokhara. 

"Those people were all either going home, or someone was going to visit their family, or on vacation, and it was pretty sad to know [this happened]," said Bastola, the London-based community group's vice president.

"Even though we're abroad, our heart is still Nepali, so we're mourning this sad occasion and praying for the families. We want to support them even if we're not physically in front of them."

On Jan. 15, Yeti Airlines Flight 691 was merely a few seconds away from landing at a newly built airport in Pokhara from Kathmandu when it crashed into a gorge, killing all 72 people aboard. This was Nepal's deadliest plane crash in three decades. Its cause has not yet been determined.

Calls for answers from Nepal government

Pradeep Bastola in a blue and white dress shirt, he's president of the London Nepalese Community group.
Pradeep Bastola is vice-president of the Nepalese Community of London, Ontario. (Submitted by Pradeep Bastola)

The local community is also calling for the government of Nepal to provide answers soon as to what led to the fatal incident in the first place, Bastola said.

A few days after the crash, a spokesperson for Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority said the new airport, which started operations on Jan. 1, did not have a functioning instrument landing system that guides planes to the runway. 

Aviation experts and pilots said it's a reflection of the Himalayan country's poor air safety record and that its mountainous landscape allows for in-flight visibility problems to be quite common.

Bastola believes the country's air safety policies are weak and that potential technical issues with the aircraft may have been missed before it took off, he said.

"We want the government to regularly update the aircrafts and a technical team who should be more advanced and secure the safety of a plane before it takes off, so we don't have these kinds of incidents again in the future," Bastola said.

Bastola says he's heard from relatives in Nepal that people are afraid to take local flights within the country until standards are improved. 

"People are saying they'll take a six-hour bus ride rather than going in a 30-minute flight,. People are scared due to the [lack of] safety of the airplane," he said. "Sometimes the weather can be bad, but that wasn't the case that day."

The Victoria Park vigil will run from 5 to 6 p.m. on Saturday evening. 


Isha Bhargava is a multiplatform reporter for CBC News. She's worked for Ontario newsrooms in Toronto and London. She loves telling current affairs and human interest stories. You can reach her at or on Twitter @isha__bhargava