Nepal plane crash: missing aircraft found on mountainside - how many died as rescuers recover bodies

The flight between Pokhara and Jomsom was scheduled to take just 15 minutes

The wreckage of a plane lost in Nepal has been found scattered on a mountainside and 14 of the 22 people on board have been confirmed dead, the army said.

Rescuers recovered 14 bodies from the crash site, said Teknath Sitaula of Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu.

This is what we know so far about what has happened.

What happened on Sunday?

On Sunday (29 May), a plane operated by a private airline in Nepal went missing with 22 passengers on board the flight.

The Tara Air plane took off from the town of Pokhara, situated 80 miles west of the capital Kathmandu, and headed towards Jomsom, around 48 miles to the north-west.

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The flight was scheduled to take just 15 minutes and planes on that route fly between mountains before landing in a valley. It’s a popular route with foreign kickers who trek on the mountain trails, and also with Indian and Nepalese pilgrims who visit the revered Muktinath temple.

The plane is understood to have been carrying four Indian passengers, two Germans and 16 Nepalis, including three crew members.

Family members and relatives of passengers on board the Twin Otter aircraft operated by Tara Air, weep outside the airport in Pokhara on May 29, 2022 (Photo by YUNISH GURUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

It lost contact with the control tower five minutes before it was set to land at Jomsom, an airline official said anonymously.

It had been raining in the area for the past few days, but flights have been operating as normal.

Nepal has a record of air accidents due to its unpredictable and sudden weather changes, and is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest.

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Did the plane crash?

The plane has been found after it crashed into the mountain side. Aerial photos of the crash site showed aircraft parts scattered on rocks and moss on the side of a mountain gorge.

The army said the plane crashed in Sanosware, in the district of Mustang, close to the mountain town of Jomsom where it was heading after taking off from the resort town of Pokhara, 125 miles west of Kathmandu.

According to tracking data from flightradar24.com, the 43-year-old aircraft took off from Pokhara at 9.55am and transmitted its last signal at 10.07am at an altitude of 12,825 feet.

The wreckage of a Twin Otter aircraft, operated by Nepali carrier Tara Air, on a mountainside in Mustang on May 30, 2022 (Photo by BISHAL MAGAR/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Twin Otter, a rugged plane originally built by Canadian aircraft manufacturer De Havilland, has been in service in Nepal for about 50 years, according to aviationnepal.com.

Production of the planes originally ended in the 1980s. Another Canadian company, Viking Air, brought the model back into production in 2010.

Are there any survivors?

Of the 22 passengers on board, 14 have been confirmed dead.

There has been no word on survivors, and the search of the crash site is continuing.

What is Nepal’s history of air accidents like?

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Over the past few years, Nepal has been the site of a number of high profile air accidents.

In 2012, two separate incidents occurred - the Sita Air Flight 601 crash which killed 19 people when a plane flying to Tenzing-Hillary Airport from Kathmandu developed technical issues and was forced to make an emergency landing; and the Agni Air Dornier 228 crash which saw 15 of the 21 passengers on board killed, including both pilots.

Nepalese fireman and volunteers look over the wreckage of a Sita airplane after it crashed, killing all 19 people on board (Photo: BIKASH KARKI/AFP/GettyImages)

On 24 February 2016, Tara Air Flight 193 went missing eight minutes after take off from Pokhara with 23 people on board. Hours later the wreckage was found near the village of Dana in the Myagdi district - there were no survivors.

After one year and five minutes, a final report into the accident was released, which stated “the probable cause of this accident was the fact that despite of unfavourable weather conditions, the crew’s repeated decision to enter into cloud during [Visual Flight Rules] flight and their deviation from the normal track due to loss of situational awareness aggravated by spatial disorientation leading to [Controlled Flight Into Terrain] accident”.

On 12 March 2018, international passenger flight US-Bangla Airlines Flight 211 from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to Kathmandu, Nepal, crashed whilst landing, killing 51 of the 71 people aboard the plane.

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The aircraft burst into flames after the crash, seriously injuring the 20 surviving passengers.