Missing plane with 22 ships found in Mustang district of Nepal

A 43-year-old plane operated by a private airline in Nepal went missing on Sunday along with 22 people who were found in Kowang, Mustang.

“As per the information given to Nepal Army by the local people, the Tara Air plane crashed at the mouth of Lamche river under Manapati Himal landslide. Nepal Army is moving towards the site by land and air,” Nepal Army spokesperson Narayan Silwal was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

According to an airline spokesperson, the Twin Otter 9N-AET aircraft belonging to Tara Air of Nepal took off from Pokhara at 9:55 am and lost contact at 10:07 am.

How was the plane located?

According to My Republica newspaper, a Nepal Army helicopter, carrying 10 soldiers and two employees of the Civil Aviation Authority, landed on a riverbank near Narshang Monastery, which was the likely site of the accident.

Tribhuvan International Airport General Manager Prem Nath Thakur was quoted by the newspaper as saying, “A Nepal Army helicopter has landed on the banks of the river near Narshang Gumba.”

Interestingly, the plane was located after Nepal Telecom tracked the cellphone of the plane’s Captain Prabhakar Ghimire via the Global Positioning System (GPS) network.

“Captain Ghimire’s cell phone of the missing aircraft is ringing, and a Nepal Army helicopter has landed in a possible crash area after Nepal Telecom tracked the captain’s phone,” Thakur said.

“We have also sent soldiers of Nepal Army and Nepal Police on foot for the search,” he said.

Who’s on the ship?

The airline released a list of passengers, four of whom were identified as Indians, besides two Germans, 13 Nepalese passengers and a three-member Nepalese crew.

“Tara Air flight 9NAET which took off from Pokhara at 9.55 am today with 22 people on board including 4 Indians has gone missing. Search and rescue operation is on. Embassy is in touch with his family. Our emergency hotline number: +977 -9851107021,” tweeted the Indian Embassy in Nepal.

The plane was to land at Jomsom Airport in the Western Hills region at 10:15 am.

Aviation sources said the aircraft lost contact with the tower from the sky over Ghorepani on the Pokhara-Jomsam air route.

According to an air traffic controller at Jomsom airport, they had an unconfirmed report about a loud noise in Ghasa, Jomsom.

According to airline sources, the weather condition on the Pokhara-Jomsam route is currently cloudy with rain, affecting the search operation.

Earlier, Home Minister Bal Krishna Khand had directed the officials to intensify the search operation for the missing aircraft.

Officials said the plane was tracked for the last time while turning towards Dhaulagiri peak.

(with agency input)