Aircraft with 23 aboard goes missing in Nepal, feared crashed

Kathmandu, Feb 24 (IANS) An aircraft carrying 23 people on board which went missing on Wednesday morning and is now feared to have crashed in Nepal, officials said.

The Tara Air Viking 9N-AHH Twin Otter with 20 passengers and three crew members aboard went missing in Nepal on Wednesday and officials rushed to the suspected crash site, media reported.

The plane, which took off at 7.47 a.m., lost contact with Pokhara Air Traffic Control 10 minutes later. “See you again, good day” were the last words from the plane’s senior captain Roshan Manandhar.

The approximately 20-minute flight from Jomsom town in Mustang district to Pokhara, some 200 kms from here, could have crashed in Rupse in Myagdi district in northern Nepal, The Kathmandu Post reported.

Mustang district is located beyond the Himalayas and any flight has to cross difficult geographical terrain and deep rocky cliffs.

Bishowraj Khadka, police chief of Myagdi district, said locals informed them about huge flames in Rupse area and said they were headed to it, the report added.

Tara Air has published the list of passengers on board that includes one Chinese and one Kuwati national and two infants. The pilot of the missing plane has been identified as Manandhar and the co-pilot is D. Namkul.

A police team has been sent to the border of Myagdi and Mustang districts after locals reported about a fire in the area. Three helicopters have been sent for rescue, said Hari Mainali, chief district officer of Kaski district.

Myagdi district is located between Kaski and Mustang districts.

However, there is no official confirmation so far about the crash but rescue teams have been sent to the possible crash site, said Narendra Singh, DIG of Nepal Police.

“The weather at Pokhara and Jomsom is fine today (Wednesday). So we have no clue about what went wrong,” said Bhim Raj Rai, Media Officer at Tara Airlines.

The aircraft was added to the fleet last September.

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