KATHMANDU, Nepal ( Associated Press) – Rescue teams searching a mountain in Nepal on Monday recovered the bodies of 21 of the 22 people on board the plane that crashed a day earlier.
The search for the remaining person is on, Kathmandu airport spokesperson Tek Nath Sitaula said.
The evacuation was delayed as some bodies were buried under the wreckage of the plane. Rescue workers working with their bare hands had difficulty removing the metal debris.
Aerial photos of the crash site showed parts of the plane scattered on rocks and moss at the side of a mountain gorge.
The Tara Air turboprop Twin Otter lost contact with the airport tower on Sunday while it was taking off on a scheduled 20-minute flight over deep river valleys and mountainous terrain.
The family kept waiting at the airport for the whole day for the news of their loved ones.
Tara Air said that there were four Indians and two Germans in the plane. It added that three crew members and other passengers were Nepalese nationals.
The German news agency DPA reported that the two Germans were a man and a woman from the western state of Hesse.
“Unfortunately, we have to assume at this point that the two people are no longer alive,” the DPA quoted a spokesman for the interior ministry of the Hesse state as saying. “On behalf of the Hessian Police, the relatives have already been informed and care measures have been initiated.”
Local news reports said the passengers included two Nepalese families, one with four members and the other with seven.
The military said the plane crashed at Sanosware in Mustang district, close to the hill town of Jomsom, where it was heading after taking off from the resort town of Pokhara, 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Kathmandu.
According to tracking data from Flightradar24.com, the 43-year-old aircraft took off from Pokhara at 9:55 am and sent its last signal at 10:07 am at an altitude of 12,825 feet (3,900 m).
The destination of the aircraft is popular with foreign climbers who trek its mountainous paths, and with Indian and Nepalese pilgrims who visit the revered Muktinath Temple.
According to local news reports, the wreckage was unearthed by villagers, who were searching the area for the Yarsagumba fungus, commonly known as Himalayan Viagra.
The Setopathi new website quoted a villager, Bishal Magar, as saying that he heard about the missing plane on Sunday, but was able to reach the spot only on Monday morning after smelling fuel.
Magar said that it appeared that the plane hit the top of a small mountain and then hit a bigger mountain.
According to AviationNepal.com, the Twin Otter, a rugged aircraft originally built by Canadian aircraft manufacturer de Havilland, has been in service in Nepal for nearly 50 years, during which it has been involved in about 21 accidents.
The aircraft, with its top-mounted wing and fixed landing gear, is prized for its durability and ability to take off and land on short runways.
Production of the planes basically ended in the 1980s. Another Canadian company, Viking Air, brought the model back into production in 2010.