Plane carrying 21 people missing in Nepal

Plane carrying 21 people missing in Nepal

Kathmandu: A plane has gone missing in Nepal with 21 people on board. The small aircraft vanished in the west of the country on Wednesday, an airport official said. The Twin Otter aircraft, operated by Tara Air, was carrying 18 passengers and a crew of three. Two foreign nationals are believed to be on board. The flight was en route from Pokhara, 125 km (80 miles) west of Kathmandu, to Jomsom when it lost contact with the control tower. "Two helicopters are on a search-and-rescue mission," Pokhara airport official Yogendra Kunwar said. "There is no trace of the aircraft so far."

Hong Kong tourist believed to be among 21 people on board plane feared crashed in Nepal

The Tara Air plane was flying from Pokhara to Jomsom and search teams were focusing on Myagdi district’s Khopra village.

A passenger plane with 21 people on board was feared to have crashed in central Nepal, police said on Wednesday.

A female Chinese tourist – believed to be from Hong Kong – was among those on board, a Tara Airlines spokesman said.

“We have dispatched three helicopters on a search and rescue mission. We will provide updates as they come,” said a statement posted on its website.

It said weather conditions were good when the plane took off for Jomsom, a popular trekking destination in the Himalayas about 20 minutes’ flight from Pokhara, which lies 225km west of Kathmandu.

“The weather at both origin and destination airports was favourable and the airport cleared for departure by the control tower at Pokhara,” said the statement.

A Nepal Army spokesman, however, said fog was hampering the search for the Twin Otter plane.

“Our rescue teams have been deployed, but the weather was not clear in the morning,” said army spokesman Tara Bahadur Karki.

“They are still out looking at possible areas, but the plane has not been located yet.”

Air travel is popular in Nepal, which has only a limited road network. Many communities, particularly in the mountains and hills, are accessible only on foot or by air.

The country, which is still reeling from a devastating earthquake last April, has suffered a number of air disasters in recent years, dealing a blow to its tourist industry.

Most have been attributed to inexperienced pilots, poor management and inadequate maintenance.

Two years ago, a Twin Otter plane belonging to the national carrier carrier Nepal Airlines crashed into a hillside shortly after taking off from Pokhara, killing all 18 people on board.

Tara Air is a subsidiary of Yeti Airlines, a privately owned domestic carrier founded in 1998 which runs a service to many remote destinations across Nepal.

It suffered its last fatal accident in 2010 when a plane chartered by a group of Bhutanese tourists crashed into a mountainside in eastern Nepal.

The country’s aviation sector has come under fire from international authorities and in 2013 the European Union blacklisted all Nepal’s airlines.

EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said at the time that the country’s safety record “does not leave us any other choice”.

Nepal’s last major aviation accident occurred last May when a US military helicopter assisting with earthquake relief crashed in bad weather, killing six Marines and seven other people.

Plane carrying 21 people missing in Nepal Plane carrying 21 people missing in Nepal Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 12:07 PM Rating: 5

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