Nepal says missing plane with 22 on board crashed

Published May 30, 2022
A view of the crash site of a plane that went missing with 22 people on board in Nepal. — Photo courtesy Nepal Army spokesperson Twitter
A view of the crash site of a plane that went missing with 22 people on board in Nepal. — Photo courtesy Nepal Army spokesperson Twitter

Nepal's army said on Monday it had located the crash site of a plane that went missing with 22 people on board during cloudy weather on Sunday.

“Search and rescue troops have physically located the plane crash site,” army spokesperson Narayan Silwal said on Twitter, posting a picture of the wreckage with the plane's tail number clearly visible and parts of the aircraft shown scattered on the edge of a mountain.

Rescue workers in Nepal have so far recovered 14 bodies from the crash site, an airport official said.

“The search for others is continuing,” said Tek Raj Sitaula, a spokesman for the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.

Four Indians, two Germans and 16 Nepalis were on board the plane, a De Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter operated by privately owned Tara Air, according to the airline and government officials.

The aircraft was on a 20-minute flight before losing contact with the control tower.

It had taken off from the tourist town of Pokhara, 125 kilometres west of the capital, Kathmandu, and was bound for Jomsom, about 80 km northwest of Pokhara, a popular tourist and pilgrimage site.

Flight-tracking website Flightradar24 said the aircraft, with registration number 9N-AET, made its first flight in April 1979.

Deo Chandra Lal Karna, a spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), said five helicopters were ready to help with the rescue process.

Nepal, home to eight of the world's 14 highest mountains, including Everest, has a record of air accidents. Its weather can change suddenly and airstrips are typically located in mountainous areas that are hard to reach.

In early 2018, a US-Bangla Airlines flight from Dhaka to Kathmandu crashed on landing and caught fire, killing 51 of the 71 people on board.

An investigation found that the captain suffered an emotional breakdown during the flight, distracting the freshly qualified co-pilot who was at the controls when it crashed.

That accident was Nepal's deadliest since 1992 when all 167 people aboard a Pakistan International Airlines plane died when it crashed on approach to Kathmandu airport.

Just two months earlier a Thai Airways aircraft had crashed near the same airport, killing 113 people.

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