At least 14 dead in Nepal plane crash; rescue operations continue

Kathmandu, May 30 (BNA): Rescue workers in Nepal retrieved today, Monday, 14 bodies as they roamed a remote mountainous area in the Himalayas scattered with the wreckage of a small plane that crashed with 22 people on board, and officials said the chance of finding survivors was slim.

The plane, operated by privately owned Tara Air, crashed during cloudy weather on Sunday and was spotted by the Nepalese army earlier on Monday after resuming searches that had halted overnight, Reuters reported.

“There is very little chance of finding survivors,” said Deo Chandra Lal Karna, a spokesman for Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority.

Tek Raj Sitaula, a spokesman for Tribhuvan International Airport in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, said rescue teams have so far found 14 bodies.

“The search for others continues,” Situla told Reuters.

A de Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter took off from the tourist town of Pokhara, 125 km west of Kathmandu, on Sunday morning.

The destination was Jomsom, a popular tourist and pilgrimage site located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Pokhara – and the journey usually takes 20 minutes.

But airline officials said the plane – which had four Indians, two Germans and 16 Nepalese on board – lost contact with the control tower in Pokhara five minutes before it was due to land. Read more

The crash site is located in the area where Mount Dhaulagiri, the seventh highest peak in the world at 8,167 meters (26,795 feet), is located near Nepal’s border with China.

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Officials said Nepalese army soldiers and other rescue workers were working in rugged mountainous terrain at an altitude of about 14,500 feet with thick cloud cover.

The weather conditions are still tough, said Nitra Prasad Sharma, the top bureaucrat in the Mustang district, where the accident occurred.

“There is a very thick cloud in the area,” he told Reuters by phone. The search for the bodies is underway.”

Flight-tracking website Flightradar24 said the plane, with registration number 9N-AET, made its maiden flight in April 1979.

Nepal, home to eight of the 14 highest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest, has a record of air accidents. The weather can change suddenly and airstrips are usually located in mountainous areas that are difficult to reach.

In early 2018, a Bengal American Airlines flight from Dhaka to Kathmandu crashed on landing and caught fire, killing 51 of the 71 people on board.

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