Nepali rescuers found 14 remains from the damaged wreckage of a passenger plane strewn across a slope in the Himalayas that went missing with 22 people on board on Monday.
Shortly after taking off from Pokhara in western Nepal on Sunday morning bound for Jomsom, a renowned trekking destination, air traffic control lost communication with the Twin Otter aircraft operated by Nepali carrier Tara Air.
Helicopters from the military and commercial companies explored the isolated mountainous terrain all day Sunday, backed by crews on foot, but the search was called off as night fell due to severe weather, which impeded the recovery operation at 3,800-4,000 meters (12,500-13,000 feet) above sea level.
The army tweeted a photo of airplane components and other debris covering a sheer slope after the search resumed on Monday, including a wing with the registration number 9N-AET clearly visible.
There were four Indians on board, as well as two Germans, and the rest were Nepalis. The cause of the crash has yet to be determined.
The plane “met an accident” about 14,500 feet (4,420 meters) in the Sanosware area of Thasang rural municipality in Mustang district, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.
“Fourteen dead have been recovered so far, with the hunt for the remaining bodies continuing. Despite the severe weather, we were able to send a team to the crash scene. “No other flight has been possible,” said Deo Chandra Lal Karn, a spokeswoman for the authority.
Dev Raj Subedi, a spokeswoman for Pokhara Airport, said the rescuers used GPS, cellphone, and satellite signals to narrow down the location.
According to local official Pradeep Gauchan, the wreckage was roughly 3,800-4,000 meters (12,500-13,000 ft) above sea level.
“It’s quite difficult to get there on foot.” “A helicopter dropped one crew near to the region, but it’s cloudy right now, so flights aren’t possible,” Gauchan said earlier in the day.
“Helicopters are on standby,” he continued, “waiting for the clouds to lift.”
The aircraft was built by Canada’s de Havilland and took its first flight in 1979, according to the Aviation Safety Network website.
Tara Air is a subsidiary of Yeti Airlines, a privately owned local airline that flies to several rural locations around Nepal.
The previous deadly accident occurred on the same route in 2016, when a plane carrying 23 people crashed into a mountaintop in the Myagdi area.
Nepal’s aviation business has exploded in recent years, transporting goods and people between remote locations, as well as foreign trekkers and climbers.
However, due to limited training and maintenance, it has long been plagued by poor safety.
Due to safety concerns, the European Union has prohibited all Nepali airlines from flying in its territory.
The Himalayan country also contains some of the world’s most remote and difficult runways, which are flanked by snow-capped peaks and have approaches that even experienced pilots find difficult.
In the highlands, the weather can change suddenly, resulting in hazardous flying conditions.
A US-Bangla Airlines plane crashed onto a football field near Katmandu’s notoriously challenging international airport in March 2018, bursting into flames.
Fifty-one people died, and 20 people miraculously survived the fire but suffered significant injuries.
That was Nepal’s bloodiest accident since 1992, when a Pakistan International Airlines plane crashed on approach to Katmandu airport, killing all 167 people on board.
A Thai Airways plane had crashed near the same airport two months prior, killing 113 people.