Relatives of the passengers on the Tara Air plane are waiting for news at the Pokhara airport. Photo: AFP/Yunish Gurung.
Groups of rescuers arrived this Sunday aboard helicopters and walked to a remote mountainous region of Nepal to begin the search for the plane of the airline Tara Air with 22 people on board, where lost contact shortly after departure.
“A domestic flight bound for Jomsom that took off in Pokhara (central-western Nepal) has lost contact” with air traffic control, Sudarshan Bartaula, a spokesman for the airline company, told AFP.
The plane, a Twin Otter carried 19 passengers – including two Germans and four Indians – and three crew, flew in from Pokhara on Sunday at 9:55 am local time, but lost contact 15 minutes later.
The last known location of the plane was at an altitude of an area near Ghorepani, a town located 2,874 meters above sea level, according to air authorities.
Rescue teams gathered at Kathmandu airport to depart towards the area where the plane went missing. Photo: AP/Niranjan Shreshta.
The Civil Aviation Authority indicated that in addition to the helicopters, army personnel, police personnel, and members of the Himalayan Rescue Association were deployed for search operations.
“Right now we cannot tell where exactly the plane is and under what conditions. There were no reports from local residents of a major fire or other indications, ”said Dev Raj Subedi, spokesman for Pokhara airport.
“Search Operations is hampered by bad weather. Three helicopters had to return and now an army helicopter is trying to reach the area, “the spokesman added, as it began to get dark in the area.
Rescue teams are focusing on an area known as Khaibang, in the heart of the Asian country, based on data received by the emergency position transmitter.
Jomsom is a popular destination for trekkers in the Himalayas, about a 20-minute flight from Pokhara, which is 200 kilometers west of Kathmandu.
Aircraft in Nepal has grown significantly in recent years, thanks to the high number of tourists, a large part of them are fond of mountain sports.
But this Himalayan country has a bad record in aviation safety due to poor training of its pilots and aircraft maintenance problems. The country also has extremely dangerous tracks, located between snow -capped mountains.
Photo of Tata Air DHC-6 Twin Otter similar to the one lost near the Himalayas. Photo: Reuters.
The European Union has banned all Nepalese airlines from accessing its airspace for security.
In March 2018, a plane from the Bangladeshi company US-Bangla Airlines crashed near Kathmandu airport, killing 51 people.
The most dramatic accident occurred in 1992, when 167 people died when a Pakistan International Airlines plane crashed near Kathmandu airport.
Two months earlier, a Thai Airways plane crashed in the same area, killing 113 people.