Two Germans were also on board the passenger plane that crashed in the Himalayas. 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.
According to information from the dpa, it is a woman and a man from Hesse. According to the airline and the Nepalese police, there were four Indians and 16 Nepalese on board in addition to the Germans.
The crash site is at an altitude of around 4000 meters in the foothills of the Himalayas in the district of Mustang in northern Nepal. There, search and rescue forces of the military have now found 15 bodies, as an employee of the salvage team on site told the dpa. According to Nepalese information, there were a total of 19 passengers and three crew members on board. The chance of finding survivors is very small, the employee said.
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 the machines. The European Union has therefore banned all Nepalese airlines from its airspace.