A private airplane in Nepal with 22 persons on board, including four Indians, has crashed close to the Lamche river of the Himalayan nation, the country’s Army spokesperson Narayan Silwal said on Sunday evening, citing locals, ANI reported.
The 9N-AET Twin Otter plane operated by Tara Air had gone missing soon after it took off from the tourist town of Pokhara for the mountain town of Jomsom at 9.55 am local time on Sunday, The Kathmandu Post reported.
The plane lost contact with the airport tower at 10.07 am in the Ghodepani area, the country’s civil aviation authority said. The plane was supposed to reach Jomsom at 10.15 am.
“The Tara Air plane crashed at the mouth of the Lamche river under the landslide of Manapathi Himal,” the Army spokesperson said, according to ANI. “Nepal Army is moving towards the site from the ground and air route.”
A helicoptor of the Nepalese army carrying 10 soldiers and two aviation department officials had landed near the bank of the river where the plane is suspected to have crashed, PTI reported, citing Prem Nath Thakur, general manager of the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.
However, due to bad weather conditions, rescue operations were called off later on Sunday evening, ANI reported.
“Due to the snowfall at the possible air crash site, the search and rescue operation has been called off for today,” Thakur said. “All the helicopters deployed for search and rescue have been called back to bases.”
The four missing Indians are of the same family hailing from Mumbai, according to PTI. They have been identified by the airline as Ashok Kumar Tripathi, Dhanush Tripathi, Ritika Tripathi and Vaibhawi Tripathi.
Apart from the Indians, the plane was carrying 13 Nepalis, two Germans and three crew members, The Kathmandu Post reported.
“The aircraft was seen over the sky of Jomsom in Mustang district and then had diverted to Mount Dhaulagiri after which it had not come into contact,” Chief District Officer Netra Prasad Sharma told ANI.
The authorities last made contact with the aeroplane in the Lete Pass region.
Chiranjibi Rana, chief district officer of Myagdi, said that bad weather has hampered search operations. Heavy rainfall has been reported in the region over the last couple of days but flights have been operating normally.
The aircraft is led by a three-member crew, including Captain Prabhakar Prasad Ghimire, co-pilot Utsav Pokhrel and air hostess Kismi Thapa, reported PTI, citing Nepal-based newspaper My Republica.