The Washington Post:At least 14 found dead in Nepal plane crash, with little hope of survivors

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KATHMANDU, Nepal — Search-and-rescue officials in Nepal recovered more than a dozen bodies at the site of plane crash in a mountainous part of the country on Monday. The plane carrying 22 people went missing Sunday. Authorities said they hold little hope of finding any survivors.

At least 14 found dead in Nepal plane crash, with little hope of survivors

© Madhu Thapa/Via ReutersAt least 14 found dead in Nepal plane crash, with little hope of survivors

An army spokesman posted a photo of the crash site on Twitter on Monday. It showed the shattered plane on a mountainside strewn with debris, including what appeared to be a wing of the plane displaying the Tara Air flight number 9NAET in green lettering.

The spokesman, Brig. Gen. Narayan Silwal, said in a tweet that the plane crashed in the Mustang district close to the mountain town of Jomsom, where the aircraft was heading before the crash. It struck a mountainside at 14,500 feet, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.

Bishnu Bahadur KC of the Nepal police said that there were no presumed survivors from the crash but that the rescue operation was ongoing as of Monday morning. Tara Air spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula said 14 bodies had been recovered so far.

Naresh Shahi, a rescuer at the crash site, said 15 bodies had been retrieved — a difference that could be due to a delay in relaying information from the crash scene, which is in difficult mountainous terrain.

“The plane and bodies — everything was found broken in parts,” he said, adding that there were no signs of burns on bodies at the wreckage site.

The aircraft, a DHC-6-300 Twin Otter operated by the private airline Tara Air, went missing shortly after taking off from Pokhara, in central Nepal, at 9:55 a.m. Sunday, according to the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu.

Jomsom, the plane’s destination, is near Nepal’s border with Tibet. The flight time was supposed to be 20 minutes. The mountain town is near the Muktinath temple — a popular religious site for Buddhists and Hindus.

Tara Air said in a notice on its website that the plane was carrying four Indian nationals, two Germans and 13 Nepalis, along with three crew members. The aircraft made its last contact with Jomson Airport at 10:07 a.m., the airline said.

According to Flightradar24, a website that tracks flights in real time around the world, the Tara Air flight stopped transmitting a signal around Shikha, a mountainous area north of Pokhara.

Twenty-three people died in 2016 when a Twin Otter aircraft operated by Tara Air and flying the same Pokhara-to-Jomsom route crashed and was later found near a village about 30 miles south of Jomsom.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency, audited Nepal’s civil aviation industry in 2017 and found that the country scored below the global average in investigating accidents. Nepali airlines are banned from flying in the airspace of the European Union because of “a lack of safety oversight by the aviation authorities” there.

Annabelle Timsit and Miriam Berger contributed to this report.

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