A talented British ballet dancer has been identified among 72 people who died in Nepal plane crash.
Ruan Crighton, from Brentwood, Essex, was listed as the 12th passenger on board the doomed Yeti Airlines ATR72 flight that crashed into a gauge and caught fire as it approached the central city of Pokhara on Sunday January 15.
It comes as the rescue crew searching the wreckage said that hopes of finding any survivors among the 72 passengers on board the plane are now ‘nil’.
Initial reports claimed Mr. Crighton was from Ireland but the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Monday that he was a UK national and was travelling with a UK passport.
The UK Foreign Office confirmed Mr. Crighton, a British national, had died in Nepal and his family were being supported by specialist officers.
It’s understood that Mr. Crighton died just one day after celebrating his 34th birthday which fell on January 14.
His death has been met with resounding sadness across the ballet community in Europe.
Mr. Crighton first joined the Central School of Ballet, London in 2005 before becoming a dancer with the Slovak National Theatre in Slovakia from 2008 to 2013.
He then became a valued member at the prestigious Finnish National Opera and Ballet company in Finland before enrolling at the European School of Physiotherapy in Amsterdam. He was supposed to graduate next year.
A friend and dancer at Slovak National Theatre told the Irish Daily Mail that news of his death deeply upset him.
‘I got the info yesterday, but i was hoping it wasn’t him,’ he said.
‘Ruan was one of my best friends. We dance together on stage for years… I’m devastated. It is very hard to say something about [him] right now. But first he was a sunshine.’
Johanna Järventaus, Communications Director of Finnish National Opera and Ballet, said she was aware of the tragedy.
‘We’ve had a British-born dancer with the same name working at the Finnish National Ballet,’ she said.
‘I hope the authorities in Nepal will be able to formally identify the victims as soon as possible. We’d prefer not to make any public statement at this point.’
A BBC news article from 2008 stated that Mr. Crighton was ‘set for stardom’.
‘His love of ballet started out at a young age when he was introduced to dance during a gymnastics class,’ it read. ‘Then at 12-years-old he decided to take ballet lessons at Brentwoods Central School of Dance and Drama.’
‘He is now furthering his career at London’s Central School of Ballet where he will leave with a degree in Professional Dance and Performance.
‘Ruan has already taken his first leap to a professional career by accepting a job offer with the Slovakian National Ballet and will move to Slovakia for when he graduates.’
Mr. Crighton told the publication that he was looking forward to his new job with the Slovakian National Ballet.
‘I’m nervous because I don’t speak Slovak and I’ve only spent a day there but I’m really looking forward to spending a few years there and dancing as much as possible,’ he said.
Mr Crighton, a UK national, was named as one of the 72 people on board the flight by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal listed Mr Crighton as an Irish national but a spokesman for Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that he is a UK national.
The spokesman said: ‘The Department of Foreign Affairs can confirm that an individual indicated in reports as being Irish is a UK national. The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is providing consular support.
‘Our deepest sympathies go to all those who have been affected by this tragic plane crash.’
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: ‘We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in Nepal and are in contact with the local authorities.’
Mr. Crighton was named as one of the passengers on the doomed Yeti Airlines ATR 72 flight which plummeted into a steep gorge as it approached Pokhara, smashing into pieces and bursting into flames on impact in Nepal’s worst aviation disaster since 1992.
At least 69 of the 72 people aboard have been confirmed dead and officials believe the three missing were also killed.