Sunday, a tiny passenger jet operated by a minor Nepalese airline vanished with 22 passengers on board, including four Indians, according to airline authorities.
The Tara Air 9 NAET twin-engine aircraft lost communication while travelling from the tourist resort of Pokhara, located around 200 kilometres northwest of the capital of Kathmandu, to the town of Jomsom, located approximately 80 kilometres to the northwest, they added. The flight, which was expected to last 15 minutes, lost communication immediately after takeoff at 9:55 am local time.
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The aeroplane was carrying four Indians and three Japanese. According to State Television, the remaining passengers were Nepalese nationals, and the total number of people on board was 22.
According to police sources, the aircraft is believed to have crashed in the “Titi” region of Lete in the hilly Mustang district, which is the fifth-largest province in Nepal and hosts the Muktinath Temple pilgrimage.
“Locals from Titi have called and informed us that they have heard an unusual sound as if there was some bang. We are deploying a helicopter to the area for the search operation,” Ram Kumar Dani, DSP of District Police Office, Mustang told ANI.
The government of Nepal has dispatched two private helicopters from Mustang and Pokhara to look for missing aircraft. Home Ministry spokeswoman Phadindra Mani Pokharel informed ANI by phone that a Nepal Army helicopter is also being prepped for deployment in the hunt.
Tara Air advertises having the “largest network of domestic flights” in Nepal. “No other Nepalese airline travels to STOL (short takeoff and landing) sectors as regularly and extensively as we do. We transfer crucial supplies, such as food grains, medications, and relief items, into remote regions and execute rescue flights “according to the airline’s website.
The airline operates seven STOL aircraft, including five Twin Otter (DHC 6/300) aircraft and two Dornier (DO 228) aircraft.
Nepal, home to the world’s tallest mountain, has a history of mishaps on its huge domestic aviation network, due to its variable weather and mountainous airstrips.