All the passengers on board the aircraft that crashed into a mountainside in Nepal are “suspected to have lost their lives”, a government official told ANI, as rescuers pulled out bodies from the mangled wreckage of the plane that had 22 people on board.
“We suspected all the passengers on board the aircraft have lost their lives. Our preliminary assessment shows that no one could have survived the plane crash, but official statement is due,” Phadindra Mani Pokhrel, Spokesperson, Home Ministry was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
At least 14 bodies have been pulled out from the crash site at 14,500ft in Sano Sware Bhir of Thasang in Mustang district.
“Fourteen bodies have been recovered so far, search continues for the remaining. The weather is very bad but we were able to take a team to the crash site. No other flight has been possible,” spokesman Deo Chandra Lal Karn told AFP a day after the crash.
The crash site was found this morning, after nearly 20 hours since the plane went missing.
The turboprop Twin Otter 9N-AET plane operated by Tara Air had lost contact minutes after it took off from the tourist city of Pokhara around 10 am on Sunday.
The Canadian-built plane was flying from the city of Pokhara to Jomsom, a popular tourist town in central Nepal.
“The aircraft was seen over the sky of Jomsom in Mustang and then had diverted to Mt. Dhaulagiri after which it hadn’t come into contact,” Chief District Officer Netra Prasad Sharma confirmed to ANI over the phone.
The airline issued the list of passengers which identified four Indians as Ashok Kumar Tripathy, his wife Vaibhavi Bandekar (Tripathy) and their children Dhanush and Ritika. The family was based in Thane city near Mumbai.
The elder sister of Vaibhavi Tripathi has requested officials not to inform her mother as her health condition is “critical”, an official said.
The Nepal Home Ministry has deployed two private helicopters from Mustang and Pokhara for the search for missing aircraft. Patrol and search units from security forces, and groups of locals are also on-foot in the Dhaulagiri region, The Himalayan Times newspaper reported.
Mustang (from the Tibetan Muntan meaning “fertile plain”) the traditional region is largely dry and arid. The world’s deepest gorge that goes down three miles vertically between Dhaulagiri and Annapurna mountains runs through this district.
Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest, has a record of air accidents.
In 2016, all 23 people aboard were killed when a plane of the same airline flying the same route crashed after takeoff.