Nepal’s army says it has located the crash site of a plane that went missing on Sunday with 22 people onboard.
“Search and rescue troops have physically located the plane crash site,” army spokesperson Narayan Silwal said on Twitter on Monday, posting a picture of the wreckage with the plane’s tail number clearly visible.
The small passenger plane went missing in cloudy weather and authorities said bad weather and mountainous terrain had hampered their efforts to locate the plane, a De Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter operated by privately owned Tara Air.
The plane took off in the morning for a 20-minute flight but lost contact with the control tower five minutes before it was scheduled to land, government officials said. It had departed from the tourist town of Pokhara, 125km (80 miles) west of the capital, Kathmandu, and was bound for Jomsom, a popular tourist and pilgrimage site.
State-owned Nepal Television said villagers had seen an aircraft on fire at the source of the Lyanku Khola river at the foot of the Himalayan mountain Manapathi, in a district bordering Tibet. “Ground search teams are proceeding toward that direction,” Tara Air spokesperson Sudarshan Gartaula said. “It could be a fire by villagers or by cowherds. It could be anything.”
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) also said a team was was on its way to the area. The airline said the plane was carrying four Indians, two Germans and 16 Nepalis, including three crew.
The flight-tracking website Flightradar24 said the missing aircraft, with registration number 9N-AET, made its first flight in April 1979. The weather office said there had been thick cloud cover in the Pokhara-Jomson area since the morning.
Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest, has a record of air accidents. Its weather can change suddenly and airstrips are typically located in mountainous areas that are hard to reach.
A US-Bangla Airlines flight from Dhaka to Kathmandu crashed on landing and caught fire in early 2018, killing 51 of the 71 people on board.
In 1992, all 167 people aboard a Pakistan International Airlines plane were killed when it ploughed into a hill as it tried to land in Kathmandu.