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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Search to continue as Nepal plane with 22 goes missing

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

Update : 29 May 2022, 10:30 PM

Nepali rescuers scoured a remote area of the lower Himalayas by helicopter and on foot on Sunday after a small passenger plane with 22 people on board went missing in the northwest during cloudy weather.

Operated by Tara Air, the 43-year-old aircraft took was carrying four Indians, two Germans and 16 Nepalis, including three crew. Tara Air suffered its last fatal accident in 2016 on the same route when a plane with 23 aboard crashed into a mountainside in Myagdi.

In the latest tragedy, the plane flew from the tourist town of Pokhara, some 125 km west of the capital, Kathmandu at 9:55am. It was headed for Jomsom, which is about 80 km northwest of Pokhara. But it lost contact at 10:07am in the Ghodepani area, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).

The plane, a De Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter, took off for a 20-minute flight.

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

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.

In the evening, the army suspended all search efforts for the plane for the day and confirmed that it would resume the operation in the morning.

An army spokesperson attributed the suspension to the loss of daylight and adverse weather. 

“The search will be resumed early in the morning tomorrow (Monday) both from air and ground. Our search and rescue team with HC is on standby at Jomsom,” he tweeted.

Earlier, the CAAN had said it had traced the potential location of the plane in Khaibang in Mustang district.

Nepal has a record of air accidents. Its weather can change suddenly and airstrips are typically located in mountainous areas that are hard to reach.

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.

A Pakistan International Airlines plane had plowed into a hill in 1992, while trying to land in Kathmandu. All 167 on board were killed.

The Twin Otter is a rugged plane originally built by Canadian aircraft manufacturer De Havilland. It has been in service by small airlines and other operators around the world for more than half a century.

The plane, with its top-mounted wing and fixed landing gear, is prized for its durability and its ability to take off and land on short runways.

Production of the planes originally ended in the 1980s. Another Canadian company, Viking Air, brought the model back into production in 2010.

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