DALLAS – A Tara Air (TB) De Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter carrying 22 people went missing early Sunday morning while flying from Pokhara to Jomsom, Nepal.
According to Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAAN), the Twin Otter took off at 9:55 am local time and lost communication with air traffic control around 12 minutes into the flight. The flight time between the two cities is about 20-25 minutes. Pokhara is located approximately 80 miles west of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital.
According to an air traffic controller at Jomsom Airport, they have an unconfirmed report about loud noise in Ghasa of Jomsom, but authorities say bad weather could have played a role in the incident.
Passengers, Aircraft Info
According to the ministry, two German nationals, four Indians, two Germans, and 13 Nepalese citizens are among the 22 individuals missing from flight 9NAET.
The 19 passengers and three crew members on board were on their way to Jomsom, a major tourist destination in Nepal’s central region. According to Binod B.K., a Nepalese home ministry official, authorities believe the tragedy was caused by bad weather.
The missing Twin Otter bears the registration 9N-AET and serial number 619. It made its first flight in April 1979 (43 years old).
The Nepalese Army has been engaged to assist in the search for the missing plane, but the weather has impeded search-and-rescue attempts. Locals reported seeing something burning earlier in the day, and it was thought that a likely incident site had been discovered.
Later on Sunday, Nepal Army spokesman Narayan Silwal announced on Twitter that first responders had halted work until Monday owing to a lack of light and bad weather, which prevented helicopters from flying into the area of the plane’s last known location.
Since the morning, a thick cloud cover had been present in the Pokhara-Jomson area, according to the country’s weather service. Due to the weather, one search helicopter was forced to return to Jomsom.
This is not the first time the Nepalese airline has had to deal with such circumstances. On December 15, 2010. a TB DHC-6 Twin Otter passenger plane crashed shortly after takeoff on a local flight from Lamidanda to Kathmandu, Nepal. The plane’s wreckage was discovered the morning after the incident in Bilandu forest near the village of Shreechaur. The crash killed all 19 passengers and three crew members on board.
This is a developing story.
Featured image: Tara air De Haviland Twin Otter 9N-AET. Photo: Steve Miller, CC-BY 2.0 Generic