Plane with 22 people goes missing in Nepal

Kathmandu, May 29 (EFE).- A small plane carrying 22 people, including a three-member crew, went missing in the mountains of western Nepal Sunday morning, officials said.

The Twin Otter plane, belonging to Tara Air, was flying to Jomsom in Mustang district, Sudarshan Badtaula, spokesperson for Yeti Airlines, the sister concern of Tara, told EFE.

The plane lost contact with aviation traffic managers around 9.55 am, minutes after it took off from Pokhara, the tourism capital of Nepal that houses a base for trekkers undertaking the Annapurna Circuit.

Thirteen Nepalese, four Indians, two Germans, and three crew members were aboard the 9N-AET plane, said the spokesperson.

The authorities have dispatched a surveillance helicopter to the Lete Pass area where the plane last contacted the air traffic controllers, an ATC official said.

However, search efforts to find the missing plane have been hampered due to bad weather, according to official sources.

“Search efforts are becoming increasingly complex” due to poor visibility and rain, spokesman for Nepal Civil Aviation Authority Deo Chandra Lal Karna told Efe.

Karna said that the aerial search and rescue operation had to be suspended for visibility reasons, while the ground one “is underway, although it is not clear when they will reach the area.”

Nepal, which houses one of the world’s most dangerous airports, has a poor flight safety record.

At least three people were killed in 2019 when a plane crashed during take-off from Lukla Airport.

A Summit Air plane crashed while trying to land, killing both pilots, on May 27, 2017.

The worst recent air crash in Nepal was in March 2018, when a Bangladeshi airline AS-Bangla aircraft crashed during landing at Kathmandu International Airport, with 67 passengers and four crew on board.

The crash killed 51 people, while 20 others survived.

Nepal has been criticized and sanctioned due to a lack of safety oversight by the aviation authorities, with the European Union denying Nepalese airlines access to its airspace since 2013. EFE


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