Nepal Air flight missing in bad weather carrying 22 people

The Tara Air plane, pictured in 2021, went missing five minutes from its destination in Nepal.(Handout via Reuters: Madhu Thapa)

Cloudy weather is preventing search crews from looking for an aeroplane missing in Nepal carrying 22 people near the tourist town of Jomsom.

The Tara Air flight took off from the tourist town of Pokhara, some 125 km west of the capital, Kathmandu, for Jomsom, about 80 km to the north-west, officials said.

The plane lost contact with the control tower five minutes before it was due to land at Jomsom, a popular tourist and pilgrimage site, an airline official said on condition of anonymity.

A statement from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said one search helicopter had aborted its flight due to poor weather.

“One search helicopter returned to Jomsom due to bad weather without locating the plane,” the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said in a statement.

“Helicopters are ready to take off for search from Kathmandu, Pokhara and Jomsom once weather conditions improve. Army and police search teams have left towards the site.”

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

Flight-tracking website Flightradar24 said the missing De Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter aircraft with registration number 9N-AET made its first flight in April 1979.

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

Police official Prem Kumar Dani said a land rescue-and-search team had been sent to the area near Mount Dhaulagiri, the world’s seventh-highest peak at 8,167m.

Nepal has a chequered record of air accidents.

Its weather can change suddenly and airstrips are typically sited in difficult-to-reach mountainous areas.

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.

In 1992, all 167 people aboard a Pakistan International Airlines plane were killed when it ploughed into a hill as it tried to land in Kathmandu.


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