Rescuers on Monday recovered 21 bodies from the wreckage site of the Tara Air plane that crashed in Nepal’s mountainous Mustang district on Sunday with 22 people on board, including four Indians, minutes after taking off from the tourist city of Pokhara, officials said.
The turboprop Twin Otter 9N-AET plane went missing on Sunday morning in the mountainous region of Nepal. The Canadian-built plane, flying from Pokhara to the popular tourist town Jomsom in central Nepal, was carrying four Indians, two Germans and 13 Nepali passengers, besides a three-member Nepali crew.
Rescuers have recovered 21 bodies from the crash site, said a statement issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN). One person was still missing, the statement added.
It said that 10 bodies were brought to Kathmandu, while 11 bodies were taken to the base camp from where the rescue operation is being coordinated.
Sudarshan Bartaula, a spokesperson for Tara Air, said that search and rescue teams are scouring the area for the remaining person.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba have condoled the death of crew members and passengers in the plane crash.
The government has formed a five-member commission of inquiry headed by senior aeronautical engineer Ratish Chandra Lal Suman to find out the cause of the Tara Air plane crash.
A preliminary investigation revealed that the aircraft had crashed into the mountains after it swerved to the right, instead of turning to the left due to inclement weather, CAAN Director-General Pradeep Adhikari said during a meeting of the International Committee of the Parliament on Monday.
Earlier in the afternoon, the CAAN in a statement said that the plane had crashed at Thasang-2 in Mustang district at the height of 14,500 feet.
Inda Singh, who was on his way to clear a blocked road, found out that the plane had crashed. He said the plane was found in a completely damaged condition, MyRepublica newspaper reported.
“All the passengers on the aircraft are found dead,” he was quoted as saying by the paper. “The dead bodies are intact and the faces of all victims are recognisable.”
He said there was no fire on the aircraft. The aircraft could have met with an accident after hitting a cliff nearby.
Search and rescue teams from Nepal Army, Air Dynasty, Kailash Helicopter and Fishtail Air Helicopter and other rescue workers were deployed at the crash site. The 9N-AJR Helicopter of Fishtail Air was the first to land at the crash site and confirmed it at 8:10 am today, according to the CAAN.
The airline’s passengers list 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 relatives of the Indian victims were waiting in Kathmandu for identification of the bodies.
Pieces of the wreckage of the aircraft were found after nearly 20 hours since the plane went missing, the Nepal Army said.
Nepal Army Spokesperson Brigadier General Narayan Silwal tweeted in the morning that search and rescue troops physically located the plane crash site.
“Crash site: Sanosware, Thasang-2, Mustang,” he tweeted along with a picture of the wreckage of the aircraft.
The plane took off at 9:55 am from Pokhara and lost contact with air control about 12 minutes later at 10:07am, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.
Tara Air spokesperson Bartaula said the bodies were scattered over a 100-metre radius from the main impact point.
The plane slammed into the mountain breaking into pieces, said Bartaula.
“The impact has blown the bodies all over the hill,” he said.
The photo posted on the social media site shows the tail and one wing of the aircraft remain intact.
The search was suspended on Sunday because of bad weather and failing light.
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.
In March 2018, a US-Bangla Air crash occurred at the Tribhuvan International Airport, killing 51 people on board.
A Sita Air flight crashed in September 2012 while making an emergency landing at the Tribhuvan International Airport, killing 19 people.
A plane flying from Pokhara to Jomsom crashed near Jomsom airport on May 14, 2012, killing 15 people.
Tara Air is the newest and biggest airline service provider in the Nepalese mountains, according to the airline website. It started its business in 2009 with the mission of helping develop rural Nepal.