Published On: Wed, Feb 24th, 2016

Passenger plane crashes in Nepal, all 23 on board dead

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All 23 people, including two children and two foreigners, on board a small plane were on Wednesday killed in Nepal after their aircraft crashed in a remote mountainous region amid poor visibility, in the country’s latest aviation tragedy

The Twin-Otter turboprop aircraft belonging to Tara Air had gone missing minutes after it took off from the airport in the resort town of Pokhara on its way to Jomsom, the starting point of people trekking the Himalayas

Its burnt-out wreckage was found in the western district of Myagdi and bodies could be seen scattered around it

Ananda Pokharel, minister for culture, tourism and civil aviation, said the wreckage was found in Solighopte forest

All aboard the N9-AHH aircraft, including two foreigners, were killed in the incident, he told PTI over phone

The 23 people on board included 18 Nepalese citizens, including two children, and two foreigners, apart from three crew members. One of the foreigners has been confirmed to be a Chinese and another a Kuwaiti national

The aircraft caught fire after it crashed, according to a search and rescue team present at the site of the accident

Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal officials said that the reason of crash is yet to be probed. Residents in the area said they saw a huge explosion and fire in the remote area

A preliminary investigation has suggested that low visibility due to a cloud of dust shrouding the area following dry landslides in Mount Annapurna might have caused the crash

According to Home Ministry officials, there were dust particles in seven villages around the site in the district

Earlier, three helicopters were dispatched from Kathmandu to locate the aircraft while Nepal Army, Armed Police Force and Nepal Police personnel were also mobilised

“We have dispatched three helicopters on a search and rescue mission,” the airline had said in a statement on its website

“The weather at both origin and destination airports was favourable and the airport cleared for departure by the control tower at Pokhara,” said the statement

In Nepal, air travel is hugely popular as there is only a limited road network. Many communities, particularly in the mountains and hills, are accessible only on foot or by air

Since 1949 – the year the first aircraft landed in Nepal – there have been more than 70 different crashes involving planes and helicopters, in which more than 700 people have been killed

In 2012, child actor Taruni Sachdev and mother Geeta Sachdev were among 15 people killed when a dornier aircraft crashed close to the Jomson airport. Taruni died in the Agni Air Flight CHT plane crash on her 14th birthday on May 14

In 2013, the European Union banned all Nepalese airlines from flying there. And in 2014, a Nepal Airlines plane crashed into the side of a snow-clad mountain in the country’s west, killing 18 people.

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