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28 Jun 2022 12:30
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  •   Home > News > International

    Nepal Air flight goes missing in bad weather with 22 people onboard after taking off from tourist town

    The plane lost contact with the control tower five minutes before it was due to land at Jomsom after taking off from the tourist town of Pokhara, 125 kilometres west of the capital, Kathmandu.


    Search teams in Nepal have been sent to a fire site after a plane carrying 22 people went missing on Sunday.

    The Tara Air flight took off from the tourist town of Pokhara, some 125 kilometres west of the capital, Kathmandu, for Jomsom, about 80 km to the north-west, officials said.

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

    State-owned Nepal Television said villagers had seen an aircraft on fire at the source of the Lyanku Khola River at the foot of the Himalayan mountain Manapathi in a district bordering Tibet.

    "Ground search teams are proceeding toward that direction," said Tara Air spokesperson Sudarshan Gartaula, referring to the fire site.

    "It could be a fire by villagers or by cowherds. It could be anything."

    The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) also said a team was headed to that area.

    Cloudy weather initially prevented search crews from looking for the plane.

    Search called off due to bad weather

    A statement from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said one search helicopter had aborted its flight due to poor weather.

    "One 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 search from Kathmandu, Pokhara and Jomsom once weather conditions improve. Army and police search teams have left towards the site."

    The airline said the plane was carrying four Indians, two Germans and 16 Nepalese, including three crew.

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

    The country's weather office said there had been thick cloud cover in the Pokhara-Jomson area since the morning.

    Police official Prem Kumar Dani said a land rescue-and-search team had been sent to the area near Mount Dhaulagiri, the world's seventh-highest peak at 8,167m.

    Nepal has a chequered record of air accidents.

    Its weather can change suddenly and airstrips are typically sited in difficult-to-reach mountainous areas.

    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 aboard a Pakistan International Airlines plane were killed when it ploughed into a hill as it tried to land in Kathmandu.

    Reuters/ABC

    © 2022 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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