Plane carrying 22 people goes missing in the mountains of Nepal

A plane operated by a private airline in the mountains of Nepal went missing on Sunday with 22 people on board, and officials said cloudy weather prevented search helicopters from flying into the area of ​​the flight’s last known location.

The 43-year-old Tara Air plane took off from the tourist town of Pokhara, about 125 kilometers west of the capital, Kathmandu, for Jomsom, about 80 kilometers northwest, the authorities said. responsible.

Flight tracking website Flightradar24 said the missing De Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter aircraft with registration number 9N-AET first flew in April 1979.

“A search helicopter returned to Jomsom due to bad weather without locating the plane,” the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said in a statement.

“Helicopters are ready to take off for the search from Kathmandu, Pokhara and Jomsom once weather conditions improve. Army and police search teams have departed for the site.”

A man looks inside the counter of Tara Air at a domestic airport after one of its planes went missing on its way to Jomsom, Kathmandu, Nepal on Sunday. (Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters)

The airline said the plane was carrying four Indians, two Germans and 16 Nepalese, including three crew members. Seven of the passengers were women, he said.

The plane lost contact with the control tower five minutes before landing at Jomsom, a popular tourist and pilgrimage site, an airline official said on condition of anonymity.

The country’s weather bureau said there had been heavy cloud cover in the Pokhara-Jomson area since the morning.

Police official Prem Kumar Dani said a ground search and rescue team had been dispatched to the area near Mount Dhaulagiri, the world’s seventh highest peak at 8,167 metres.

Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 tallest mountains, including Everest, has a record for air crashes. Its weather can change suddenly, and airstrips are usually located in hard-to-reach mountainous areas.

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

In 1992, all 167 people on board a Pakistan International Airlines plane were killed when it slammed into a hill while trying to land in Kathmandu.