Plane with 22 people on board missing in Nepal

  • The plane had 19 passengers on board and three crew members.
  • He took off from the western city of Pokhara for Jomsom on Sunday morning.
  • The aircraft’s last known position was in an area around Ghorepani at over 2,000 meters above sea level.

Nepalese rescuers scoured a remote region of the lower Himalayas by helicopter and on foot on Sunday after an airliner with 22 people on board went missing.

Nepal’s airline industry has boomed in recent years, transporting goods and people between hard-to-reach areas as well as foreign trekkers and mountaineers. But he has a bad safety record.

The Twin Otter plane operated by Tara Air took off from the western city of Pokhara for Jomsom at 9.55am on Sunday but air traffic control lost contact after 15 minutes, the airline said.

There were 19 passengers on board and three crew members, airline spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula told AFP. The passengers included two Germans and four Indians, the rest Nepalese.

The plane’s last known position was in an area around Ghorepani, a village 2,874 meters above sea level, according to the aviation authority.

The Civil Aviation Authority said that in addition to two helicopters, personnel from the army, police and the Himalayan Rescue Association had been deployed to carry out search operations on foot.

“At this time, we cannot say exactly where the aircraft is and in what condition. There have been no reports or information from locals about a large fire or any other such indications,” said Dev Raj Subedi, spokesman for Pokhara Airport.

“Search operations were hampered by the weather. Three helicopters had to return. An army helicopter is now trying to reach the area,” he told AFP as the light began to fade. In the region.

– Bad balance sheet –

Jomsom is a popular trekking destination in the Himalayas about 20 minutes by plane from Pokhara, which lies 200 kilometers west of the capital Kathmandu.

Tara Air is a subsidiary of Yeti Airlines, a private national carrier serving many remote destinations across Nepal.

He suffered his last fatal accident in 2016 on the same road when a plane with 23 people on board crashed into a mountainside in Myagdi district.

Nepal’s aviation industry has long suffered from a lack of safety due to insufficient training and maintenance.

The European Union has banned all Nepalese airlines from its airspace for security reasons.

The Himalayan country also has some of the most remote and difficult tracks in the world, flanked by snow-capped peaks with approaches that pose a challenge even to accomplished pilots.

The weather can also change quickly in the mountains, creating dangerous flying conditions.

– Emotional breakdown –

In March 2018, a US-Bangla Airlines plane crashed near the notoriously difficult Kathmandu International Airport, skidded on a football pitch and burst into flames.

Fifty-one people died and 20 miraculously escaped the burning wreckage but were seriously injured.

An investigation revealed that the captain suffered an emotional breakdown during the flight, distracting the freshly qualified co-pilot who was at the controls during the accident.

The accident was the deadliest in Nepal since 1992, when all 167 people on board a Pakistan International Airlines plane died when it crashed on approach to Kathmandu airport.

Just two months earlier, a Thai Airways plane had crashed near the same airport, killing 113 people.

In 2019, Nepal’s Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari was among seven people killed when a helicopter crashed in the hilly east of the country.

This month, Nepal’s second international airport opened in Bhairahawa, aiming to allow Buddhist pilgrims from all over Asia to access the Buddha’s birthplace near Lumbini and ease the pressure at Kathmandu airport.

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