Around two days after a passenger plane crashed in the Himalayas in Nepal, emergency services recovered the last of the 22 fatalities. This was announced by a Nepalese army spokesman on Tuesday morning on Twitter.
The bodies remaining at the scene of the accident at around 4000 meters in the foothills of the Himalayas are to be taken to the capital Kathmandu. In addition to two Germans, 16 Nepalese and four Indians were on board.
The search operation, in which the Nepalese military was also involved, took place at an altitude of almost 4,500 meters under persistently difficult weather conditions. The region was overshadowed by a very dense cloud cover.
According to information from the dpa, the two German passengers are a woman and a man from Hesse. The Foreign Office in Berlin said on Monday that they were in close contact with the Nepalese authorities and their relatives and that they were providing consular support to their relatives.
Air traffic control lost contact with the machine around 10 a.m. on Sunday morning. The plane of the Nepalese airline Tara Air was on its way from Pokhara – a popular tourist destination around 200 kilometers west of Kathmandu – to Jomsom. According to the plan, the flight should take around 15 to 20 minutes.
The search for the machine was interrupted for the night due to poor visibility. According to the Nepali Times, it is a 43-year-old Twin Otter 9N-AET machine. The wreck was then found in the morning.
Pokhara is the starting point for numerous trekking tours, including the Annapurna circuit. The Annapurna massif is a popular hiking region in the Himalayan country. The Pokhara-Jomsom flight route is considered one of the most accident-prone routes in Nepal. At least 74 people have died in five plane crashes along this route since 1997, according to the Nepali Times.
In February 2016, 23 people died in a crash on the route. A Tara Air propeller plane crashed in the mountainous region of central Nepal, and the burned-out wreck was later discovered on a mountain. Nobody had survived.
Aviation in Nepal has been booming for years and is being expanded for both tourists and freight transport. However, safety standards are low due to insufficient staff training and poor maintenance of machines. The European Union has therefore banned all Nepalese airlines from its airspace.