Saturday, June 10, 2023

Nepal plane with 22 missing, teams reach fire site

  • The plane took off in bad weather with 19 passengers, 3 crew
  • Search and rescue operations disrupted by terrain, weather
  • Mountainous Nepal has a history of fatal plane crashes

KATHMANDU, May 29 (Reuters) – A small passenger plane operated by a private airline went missing with 22 people on board during cloudy weather in mountainous Nepal on Sunday, and officials said search teams at the site of the fire were seen by local people. was sent to. Residents.

State-owned Nepal Television said villagers had seen an aircraft catching fire at the source of the Lyanku Khola river in the foothills of the Himalayan mountain Manapati in the district bordering Tibet.

Government officials said the de Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter plane took off in the morning for a 20-minute flight, but lost contact with the control tower five minutes before the ground. It was operated by Tara Air.

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“Search teams on the ground are moving in that direction,” Tara Air spokesperson Sudarshan Gartoula said, citing the fire site. “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 going to the area.

“Due to inclement weather and complex terrain, the aircraft’s location is still unknown,” it said in a statement. “The ground and air search for the aircraft will be intensified and the Rescue Coordination Center will be open 24 hours a day.”

The airline said there were four Indians, two Germans and 16 Nepalese on board, including three crew members.

The plane took off from the tourist town of Pokhara, which is about 125 km (80 mi) west of the capital, Kathmandu. It was headed to Jomsom, which is about 80 km (50 mi) northwest of Pokhara and is a popular tourist and pilgrimage site.

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

The Meteorological Office said that the Pokhara-Jomson area had been cloudy since morning.

Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest, has a record of air crashes. Its weather can change abruptly and airstrips are usually located in mountainous areas which are difficult 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.

In 1992, all 167 people on board a Pakistan International Airlines (PIAA.PSX) plane were killed when it was trying to land in Kathmandu.

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Reporting by Gopal Sharma Krishna N. Writing by Das Editing by Robert Birsel, Tom Hogg and Francis Carey

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Nation World News Desk
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