London's Nepalese community holding vigil to mourn victims killed in plane crash
The candlelight vigil will be held at Victoria Park Saturday evening
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
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.