Plane disappears in Nepal with 22 people on board, teams head to shooting scene

KATHMANDU (Reuters) – A small passenger plane operated by a private airline went missing in a mountainous region of Nepal on Sunday with 22 people on board during cloudy weather, and officials said search teams were sent to the site of a fire discovered by local residents. population.

State-owned Nepal Television said villagers saw a plane burning at the source of the Lianko Khola River at the foot of the Manabathi Mountain in the Himalayas in an area bordering Tibet.

Government officials said the plane took off in the morning, a 20-minute flight, but lost contact with control tower five minutes before it was due to land. It was operated by Tara Aviation.

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“Ground search teams are moving in that direction,” Tara Air spokesman Sudarshan Gartola told Reuters, referring to the site of the fire. “It could be a fire by villagers or shepherds. It could be anything.”

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) also said that a team was heading to that area.

The airline said the plane was carrying four Indians, two Germans and 16 Nepalese, including three crew members.

The plane flew from the tourist town of Pokhara, 125 km west of the capital, Kathmandu. She was heading to Jomsom, which is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Pokhara and is a popular tourist and pilgrimage site.

Flight tracker Flightradar24 said the missing De Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter with registration number 9N-AET made its maiden flight in April 1979.

“A search helicopter has returned to Jomsom due to bad weather, without naming the aircraft’s location,” CAAN said in a statement.

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“Helicopters are ready to take off for search from Kathmandu, Pokhara and Jomsom as soon as the weather improves. Army and police search teams have left for the site.”

The meteorological office said there had been a thick cover of clouds in Pokhara Jomsun district since morning.

Nepal, home to eight of the 14 highest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest, has a record of air accidents. The weather can change suddenly and airstrips are usually located in mountainous areas that are difficult to reach.

In early 2018, an American Bangladesh Airlines flight from Dhaka to Kathmandu crashed on landing and caught fire, killing 51 of the 71 people on board.

In 1992, all 167 passengers of Pakistan International Airlines were (PIAa.PSX) A plane was killed when it hit a hill while trying to land in Kathmandu.

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(cover) Gopal Sharma Writing by Krishna Das Editing by Robert Percelle, Tom Hogg and Francis Kerry

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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