A small passenger plane operated by a private airline in Nepal went missing on Sunday with 22 people on board, including four Indians, minutes after taking off from the tourist city of Pokhara, officials said.
The Tara Air aircraft took off at 9.55 AM from Pokhara, and lost contact with the control tower 15 minutes later, according to an airline spokesperson.
Apart from the four Indian nationals (who are from Mumbai), two Germans and 13 Nepali passengers were on board the Twin Otter 9N-AET plane, a spokesperson at the airlines said.
Tara Air flight 9NAET that took off from Pokhara at 9.55 AM today with 22 people onboard, including 4 Indians, has gone missing. Search and rescue operation is on. The embassy is in touch with their family.
Our emergency hotline number :+977-9851107021. https://t.co/2aVhUrB82b
– IndiaInNepal (@IndiaInNepal) May 29, 2022
The aircraft was scheduled to land at Jomsom Airport in the Western mountainous region at 10:15 am.
The aircraft lost contact with the tower from the sky above Ghorepani on the Pokhara-Jomsom air route, aviation sources said.
According to an air traffic controller at Jomsom Airport, they have an unconfirmed report about a loud noise in Ghasa of Jomsom.
The Nepal government has deployed two private helicopters from Mustang and Pokhara for the search for missing aircraft. The Nepal Army and police personnel have been dispatched to carry out search through land route, officials added.
Tara Air boasts of having the “widest domestic flights network” in Nepal. “No other airlines in Nepal flies to the remote STOL (short takeoff and landing) sectors as extensively and frequently as we do. We transport essential supplies to the hinterlands, including food grains, medicines, relief materials and operate flights for rescue purposes,” the airline website says.
The airline operates a fleet of seven STOL aircrafts, comprising of five Twin Otter (DHC 6/300) and two Dornier (DO 228) aircrafts.
Nepal, home to the world’s highest mountain, does have a record of accidents on its extensive domestic air network, with changeable weather and airstrips in difficult mountain locations.
In 2016, a Twin Otter turboprop aircraft operated by Tara Air crashed in the western district of Myagdi, leaving 23 people dead. Apart from three crew, 20 passengers, including a Chinese and one a Kuwaiti national, were on board the ill-fated flight.
With additional inputs from agencies