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File photo of a Twin Otter aircraft belonging to Tara Air at Tenzing Hillary Airport, in Lukla. Photo: Reuters
File photo of a Twin Otter aircraft belonging to Tara Air at Tenzing Hillary Airport, in Lukla. Photo: Reuters

Nepal finds wreckage of missing plane

The wreckage of the Tata Air passenger plane was found in a completely burnt state in Solighopte in Myagdi district, said the aviation minister

Kathmandu: The wreckage of a passenger plane that went missing in Nepal on Wednesday with 23 people on board has been found, the aviation minister said.

“The wreckage of the plane was found in a completely burnt state in Solighopte in Myagdi district," Aananda Prasad Pokharel told AFP, adding that bodies could be seen scattered around the wreckage.

The airline revised its earlier number of 21 on board the Twin Otter plane.

Rescue teams were earlier on Wednesday scouring a remote mountainous area of Nepal where a passenger plane went missing. Tara Air said the Twin Otter aircraft had lost contact with air traffic control eight minutes after taking off from the popular tourist town of Pokhara in western Nepal early on Wednesday.

It said weather conditions were good when the plane took off for Jomsom, a popular trekking destination in the Himalayas about 20 minutes’ flight from Pokhara, which lies 225 kilometres west of Kathmandu.

Air travel is popular in Nepal, which has only a limited road network. Many communities, particularly in the mountains and hills, are accessible only on foot or by air.

The country, which is still reeling from a devastating earthquake last April, has suffered a number of air disasters in recent years, dealing a blow to its tourist industry.

Most have been attributed to inexperienced pilots, poor management and inadequate maintenance. Two years ago, a Twin Otter plane belonging to the national carrier carrier Nepal Airlines crashed into a hillside shortly after taking off from Pokhara, killing all 18 people on board.

Tara Air is a subsidiary of Yeti Airlines, a privately owned domestic carrier founded in 1998 which runs a service to many remote destinations across Nepal. It suffered its last fatal accident in 2010 when a plane chartered by a group of Bhutanese tourists crashed into a mountainside in eastern Nepal.

The country’s aviation sector has come under fire from international authorities and in 2013 the European Union blacklisted all Nepal’s airlines. EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas said at the time that the country’s safety record “does not leave us any other choice".

Nepal’s last major aviation accident occurred last May when a US military helicopter assisting with earthquake relief crashed in bad weather, killing six Marines and seven other people.

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