Passenger plane carrying 22 people CRASHES minutes after takeoff in the mountains as search launched for survivors
A PASSENGER plane carrying 22 people crashed just minutes after takeoff over a mountain in Nepal, sparking a major rescue operation.
The Nepalese military confirmed the commercial flight crashed at the mouth of the Lamche River near Kowang, Mustang, on Sunday morning.
Army spokesman Narayan Silwar said officials had yet to confirm the condition of the plane and whether there were any survivors.
He said troops are now moving to the site from the ground and via air after cloudy weather hampered search teams’ efforts.
A notice from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said a search helicopter was forced to cancel its flight due to bad weather.
“A search helicopter returned to Jomsom due to bad weather without determining the plane’s location,” the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.
“Helicopters are ready to take off to search from Kathmandu, Pokhara and Jomsom as weather conditions improve. Army and police search teams have moved towards the site.”
The small plane operated by a private airline disappeared over a remote mountain range on Sunday morning.
The flight was making a scheduled 15-minute trip from the tourist town of Pokhara to the mountain town of Jomsom when it lost contact with the airport shortly after takeoff, tourism authorities said.
The plane 9N-AET, belonging to Tara Air, is believed to have lost contact at 9:55 a.m., according to an airline official.
According to the Kathmandu Post, an air traffic controller at Jomson airport said they had received an unconfirmed report of a loud noise in Jomsom’s Ghasa.
It added that a helicopter is currently surveying the area where contact was last made.
The plane was carrying 16 Nepalese, 4 Indian, 2 German and 3 crew members.
It is known that the area has been subjected to heavy rain in the past few days, but flights are still operating normally.
The plane was required to fly over a mountain range before landing in a valley.
The area is a popular hiking route as well as pilgrimage site for Indians and Nepalese due to the revered Muktinath temple located there.