The Nepal Army engaged in searching the Tara Air plane that went missing with four Indians on-board on Sunday has called off the operation for the day due to poor light, an official said, adding the search operations will resume on Monday morning.
The plane was carrying 19 passengers including four Indian nationals and three crew members, according to Nepal Civil Aviation Authority.
Nepal Army spokesperson Brig Gen Narayan Silwal said: “Nepal Army has halted all efforts of search and rescue for today due to loss of daylight and adverse weather. The search will resume early tomorrow (Monday) morning both from air and ground. Our search and rescue team is on standby at headquarters and in Jomsom.”
Tara Air’s 9 NAET twin-engine aircraft carrying 19 passengers, flying from Pokhara to Jomsom had lost its contact on Sunday morning minutes after it took off from Pokhara airport.
Some reports suggested that some local residents in Mustang district have heard a loud sound in the Khaibang area but due to bad weather and difficult geographical terrain, security personnel and the locals could not reach the suspected crash site.
The plane has not yet been located, Silwal said, adding “we are trying to reach the place where locals have reportedly seen something burning”.
“Once our troops reach the location then only we can verify the findings officially and independently. Our rescue effort from ground and air is relentless,” the army officer said.
Earlier, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal had said it had traced the potential location of the plane in Khaibang in Mustang district.
Deo Chandra Lal Karna, spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, said that based on an emergency locator transmitter (ELT), they have traced the potential area in Khaibang.
The ELT is an emergency beacon used in aircraft to alert rescue authorities and to indicate the location and the identity of an aircraft in distress.
“We have received a note from Bangalore, India, which tracks the ELT,” said Karna. “But due to some complex weather factors, the rescue teams are finding it difficult to reach the probable site,” he added.
“The area is blanketed in dense clouds and it has started raining too. The ground search, however, is underway,” said Karna.
Local residents claimed that the plane made two circles in Khaibang.
The 9N-AET Twin Otter carrying 22 people, including three crew members, took off from Pokhara at 9.55 a.m. for Jomsom. But it lost contact at 10.07 a.m. in the Ghodepani area, according to a statement. The plane was carrying 13 Nepalis, four Indians, and two Germans.
Soon after the aircraft went out of contact, the Nepal Army deployed its personnel in the Lete area for search.
The civil aviation office said in a statement that its rescue coordination centre will stay open throughout the clock and search and rescue will continue until the missing airline traced out.
Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu has published a notice and hotline numbers for assistance. Four Indian nationals have reportedly travelled in the ill-fated airline and the Embassy has said that it is trying to establish contacts with the family members of the missing people.