Plane carrying 22 people goes missing in Nepal’s mountains

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Stock image: A mountain range near Pokhara, Nepal (AP)
Stock image: A mountain range near Pokhara, Nepal (AP)

A plane with 22 people on board has disappeared while flying in the Nepal mountains on Sunday, an offiical said.

The Tara Airlines plane was flying on a popular tourist route before it vanished without a trace.

Cloudy weather has prevented search helicopters from taking to the sky in the area of the flight’s last known location, officials said.

“One search helicopter returned to Jomsom due to bad weather without locating the plane,” the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said in a statement.

“Helicopters are ready to take off for search from Kathmandu, Pokhara and Jomsom once weather conditions improve. Army and police search teams have left towards the site.”

A land and rescue and search team has been deployed to the area near Mount Dhaulagiri, the world’s seventh-highest peak at 8,167 m, police official Prem Kumar Dani said.

The plane was on a 15-minute scheduled flight to the mountain town of Jomsom.

It took off from the resort town of Pokhara, 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of Kathmandu.

The aircraft lost contact with the airport tower shortly after takeoff.

The airline confirmed the plane was carrying four Indians, two Germans and 16 Nepalis including three crew.

Seven of the passengers were women, it said.

The country’s weather office said there had been thick cloud cover in the Pokhara-Jomson area since the morning.

It has been raining in the area for the past few days but flights have been continuing to operate normally.

Planes on that route fly between mountains before landing in a valley.

It is a popular route with foreign hikers who trek on the mountain trails.

Also the route is favoured by Indian and Nepalese pilgrims who visit the revered Muktinath temple.

Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest.

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