Nepal: searchers find wreckage of missing passenger plane

Authorities say there is little chance the 23 people on board the Tara Air flight will be found alive

Nepal Plane
A Tara Air Twin Otter lands at Pokhara Airport in 2013 after a flight from Jomsom
(Image credit: Wikipedia)

The wreckage of a small passenger plane, which went missing minutes after take-off, has been found in a remote region of Nepal.

Adverse weather conditions have hampered attempts to reach the crash site but officials say there is little chance any of the 23 people on board will be found alive.

The Tara Air flight took off from Pokhara, Nepal's second city, on Wednesday morning, scheduled to make a short 19-minute flight to the town of Jomsom. Both destinations are popular gateways to the Himalayas for visiting trekkers.

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The plane, a De Havilland Twin Otter, lost contact with the ground about ten minutes after take-off. The last reported contact with the pilot came as they left Pokhara's airspace, at which point the flight appeared to be progressing normally. The plane was then supposed to begin communication with air traffic control at Jomsom Airport, but instead disappeared from the radar.

An army helicopter and two private helicopters were deployed to search the flight path for signs of the plane. These are now heading for the crash site, identified by the Kathmandu Post as being near the Rupse Chhahara cascades, a beauty spot which features in many tourist guidebooks.

Of the 20 passengers, 18 were from Nepal, one from China and one from Kuwait. Two children were also believed to be on the flight, the BBC reports.

Sanjiv Gautam, the director general of Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority, told the broadcaster he was "surprised" at the news, saying the weather had been clear and the plane was new.

Nepal's aviation safety record has come under scrutiny on several occasions, with an average of around one crash per year since 1949.

In May 2013, a Twin Otter operated by Nepal Airlines crashed on the bank of the nearby Gandaki River as it approached Jomsom, leaving seven of the 21 people on board with serious injuries. Since then, all Nepalese carriers have been banned from flying within the European Union.

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