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Plane goes missing in Nepal with 22 on board


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A plane carrying 22 people went missing over Nepal on Sunday, and local authorities said bad weather was hampering search-and-rescue efforts.

The aircraft, a DHC-6 Twin Otter operated by the private Nepalese airline Tara Air, went missing shortly after taking off from Pokhara, in central Nepal, at 9:55 a.m. local time on Sunday, according to the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu.

The plane was headed for Jomsom, near Nepal’s border with Tibet.

Tara Air told Reuters that the plane was carrying four Indian nationals, two German nationals and 16 Nepali nationals, of which three were crew members. Tara Air could not immediately be reached for comment.

A spokesperson for the Nepalese Army said around 2 p.m. local time that military personnel and helicopters were “trying to locate [the] plane,” which was thought to be “in and around Lete,” some 22 miles south of Jomsom.

But the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said in a news release Sunday that at least one search helicopter returned to Jomsom “due to bad weather without locating the plane,” according to Reuters.

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

The plane had not yet been found as of 6 p.m. local time, according to the Army spokesperson, who said “we are trying to reach the place where locals have allegedly seen something burning,” in what he called a “relentless” search-and-rescue operation.

According to Flightradar24, a website that tracks flights in real-time around the world, the Tara Air flight stopped transmitting a signal around Shikha, a mountainous area north of Pokhara. The aircraft lost contact with the control tower shortly after it took off on its short journey from Pokhara, the Associated Press reported.

Twenty-three people died in 2016 when a Twin Otter aircraft operated by Tara Air and flying the same Pokhara-to-Jomsom route crashed and was later found near a village about 30 miles south of Jomsom.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency, found that Nepal scored below the global average in investigating accidents during a 2017 audit of the country’s civil aviation industry. Nepalese airlines are banned from flying in the airspace of the European Union “due to a lack of safety oversight by the aviation authorities” there.

At least 49 dead in Nepal after plane crashes on landing, officials say

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