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Rescuers on Sunday narrowed down a possible location of a passenger plane that went missing in Nepal’s mountains with 22 people on board while flying on a popular tourist route, officials said.
The Tara Air plane, which was on a 15-minute scheduled flight to the mountain town of Jomsom, took off from the resort town of Pokhara, 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of Kathmandu. It lost contact with the airport tower shortly after takeoff.
Police official Ramesh Thapa said there was no information on the turboprop Twin Otter aircraft and a search was underway. An army helicopter as well as private helicopters were looking for the plane, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said in a statement.
A team of climbers prepares to leave for rescue operations from the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sunday, May 29, 2022. A small airplane with 22 people on board flying on a popular tourist route was missing in Nepal’s mountains Sunday, an official said. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shreshta)
Rescue efforts have been able to narrow down a possible location for the flight, but had not been able to visually identify the plane yet, a Tourism Ministry official, who was not authorized to speak to the media, said on condition of anonymity.
There were six foreigners on board the plane, including four Indians and two Germans, according to a police official who also spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the media.
It has been raining in the area for the past few days, but flights have been operating normally. Planes on that route fly between mountains before landing in a valley.
In this May 27, 2019, file photo, a bird flies with Mount Everest seen in the background from Namche Bajar, Solukhumbu district, Nepal. ( AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha, File)
It is a popular route with foreign hikers who trek on the mountain trails and also with Indian and Nepalese pilgrims who visit the revered Muktinath temple.
According to plane tracking data from flightradar24.com, the 43-year-old aircraft took off from Pokhara at 4:10 GMT and transmitted its last signal at 4:22 GMT at an altitude of 12,825 feet (3,900 meters).
In 2016, a Tara Air Twin Otter flying the same route crashed after takeoff, killing all 23 people aboard. In 2012, an Agni Air plane also flying from Pokhara to Jomsom crashed, killing 15 people. Six people survived. In 2014, a Nepal Airlines plane flying from Pokhara to Jumla crashed, killing all 18 on board.
In 2018, a US-Bangla passenger plane from Bangladesh crashed on landing in Kathmandu, killing 49 of the 71 people aboard.