Nepal: Plane with 22 on board, including four Indians, goes missing
Kathmandu, May 29, 2022
A plane with 19 passengers, including four Indians, and three crew members went missing in Nepal on Sunday morning shortly after taking off, aviation authorities said.
In a statement, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said the Tara Airlines 9N-AET Twin Otter plane was en route from Pokhara to Jomsom in Mustang when it lost contact with air traffic control.
The plane had taken off from Pokhara at 9.55 am local time and had lost contact at 10.07 am while it was flying over the Ghodepani area, a statement said.
Apart from the four Indians, there were 13 Nepalis and two Germans on board the aircraft.
The Nepal Army launched a search operation for the plane but called it off for the day in the evening due to poor light. The search operations will resume on Monday morning.
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."
Some reports suggested that some local residents in Mustang district 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 area for a search effort.
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 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.