Kathmandu: Rescuers on Monday recovered 20 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 belonging to Tara Air went missing on Sunday morning in the mountainous region of Nepal.

The Canadian-built plane, flying from the city of Pokhara to the popular tourist town Jomsom in central Nepal, was carrying four Indian nationals, two Germans and 13 Nepali passengers, besides a three-member Nepali crew.

Rescuers have pulled out 20 bodies from the crash site, the Kathmandu Post newspaper reported.

“The search and rescue teams are scouring the area for the remaining two bodies,” Sudarshan Bartaula, a spokesperson for Tara Air, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

He said that out of the total recovered bodies, 10 have been brought to Kowang, the base from where the rescue is conducted.

“There are around 100 people at the crash site including officials of the Nepal Army, Armed Police Force, Nepal Police, mountaineering rescue officials and locals searching for the remaining bodies,” he added.

Citing officials, the paper said that the bodies would be airlifted to Kathmandu by 5pm on Monday.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari has condoled the death of crew members and passengers in the plane crash.

Earlier in the afternoon, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) had said that 16 bodies have been recovered from the wreckage of the ill-fated plane in the country’s Mustang district.

In a statement, it 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.

Pieces of the wreckage of the aircraft were found after nearly 20 hours since the plane went missing, the Nepal Army said on Monday.

“The search and rescue troops have physically located the plane crash site. Details will be followed, Nepal Army Spokesperson Brigadier General Narayan Silwal tweeted in the morning.

“Crash site: Sanosware, Thasang-2, Mustang, he tweeted along with a picture of what appears to be the wreckage of the aircraft. Lt Mangal Shrestha, a police inspector and a guide have already reached the site, he said.

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 helicopter dropped three rescuers-from Nepal Army, Nepal Police and a high altitude rescue guide-early in the morning.

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.

Also Read | 4 Indians among 22 people on board missing Nepal passenger plane


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