Relatives of passengers of a plane crash in the Himalayas, in tears, on May 30, 2022 at Pokhara Airport, Nepal (AFP/PRAKASH MATHEMA)
On Monday, the army announced that 21 bodies had been found on the slope of a mountain in the Himalayas in Nepal, where a plane crashed on Sunday with 22 people on board.
“21 bodies have been found and teams are searching for the last one,” Nepal Army spokesman Narayan Salwal told AFP the day after the Tara Air twin Otter accident.
“Ten bodies have been unloaded and efforts are being made to return them to Kathmandu. Rescue teams are working to bring the other bodies closer to the helicopter,” he said.
The authority had confirmed earlier Monday that the plane “had an accident” at an altitude of 4,420 meters in the Sanossuer area of Thasang rural municipality in the Mustang region. It did not give details of the reason.
The wreckage of a wrecked twin-engine plane with 22 people on board was found on the side of a mountain in the Mustang District on May 30, 2022 in Nepal (AFP/Bishal MAGAR)
Dev Raj Subedi, spokesman for Pokhara Airport, said: “Analysis of the footage we received, it appears that the flight did not catch fire. Everything is scattered around the site. It appears that the flight hit a big rock on the hill.”
About 60 people work hard at the site, including soldiers, police, mountain guides and locals, most of whom have traveled miles on foot to get to it.
– Indian family –
In addition to the three crew members, the plane was carrying 19 passengers, including two Germans, four Indians and 10 Nepalese.
Indian police official Uttam Sunawan told AFP that the four Indians are a married couple and their daughter and son are aged 15 and 22.
Map of Nepal showing the locations of Pokhara, Thasang and Jomsom (AFP/)
According to Pradeep Gaochan, a local official, the wreck is about 3800-4000 meters above sea level.
The twin Otter of the twin-engine Tara Air took off from Pokhara (central western Nepal) at 9:55 am (0410 GMT), the second largest city in the country, 200 kilometers west of the capital Kathmandu, before losing radio communication.
He was going to Jomsom, a popular area for hikers in the Himalayas, a 20-minute ride from Pokhara.
A photo posted by Nepal Army spokesman Narayan Silwal on Twitter showed plane wreckage scattered on the side of a mountain.
Registration number 9N-AET was clearly visible on what appeared to be a piece of the wing.
According to the Aviation Safety Network website, the plane was built by Canadian company De Havilland and first flew over 40 years ago in 1979.
Families collapse after a plane crash in the Himalayas on May 30, 2022 at Pokhara Airport in Nepal (AFP/Yunish Gurung)
The search operations had resumed Monday morning after stopping on Sunday at nightfall.
Tara Air is a subsidiary of Yeti Airlines, a private domestic airline serving many remote areas of Nepal.
Nepalese civil aviation has flourished in recent years, transporting tourists, pedestrians, and mountaineers, as well as cargo, to remote and hard-to-reach places by road.
– bleak safety record –
Nepal, a poor country in the Himalayas, has a dismal flight safety record due to insufficient pilot training and maintenance.
The European Union has banned all Nepalese airlines from accessing its airspace for security reasons.
The country also has some of the most dangerous airstrips in the world, located among snow-capped peaks.
Families of passengers of the crashed plane wait outside Pokhara Airport on May 29, 2022 in Nepal (AFP / Yunish Gurung)
In March 2018, a US Bangladesh Airlines plane crashed near Kathmandu airport, killing 51 people.
The deadliest accident dates back to 1992: 167 people were killed on board a Pakistan International Airlines plane near Kathmandu airport.
Two months ago, a Thai Airways plane crashed in the same area, killing 113 people.