After the disappearance of a passenger plane with 22 people on board, probably including two Germans, search and rescue forces of the military in Nepal have found the crash site.
An army spokesman said on Twitter on Monday that the machine was found in the foothills of the Himalayas in the Mustang district in the north of the country.
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The army spokesman also published a photo of the crash site taken by the search team. It shows pieces of debris scattered on a mountainside. The registration number of the plane 9N-AET of the Nepalese airline Tara Air is clearly visible on an alleged part of a wing.
After an overnight break, the search for the machine resumed on Monday morning. Before the wreckage was discovered, a spokesman for Pokhara airport, Dev Raj Subedi, told AFP that two rescue helicopters and soldiers on the ground had shifted their search to a suspected crash site.
However, due to continued bad weather, the helicopters could not have landed in the area. According to Subedi, the search party followed GPS, cellphone and satellite signals.
According to Nepalese information, Germans could also have been on board the machine. “There are 4 Indians, 2 Germans and 16 Nepalese nationals on the plane,” police spokesman KC told dpa on Sunday.
The Foreign Office in Berlin said on Sunday that the German embassy in Kathmandu was working hard to clarify the reports about German passengers on board and was in contact with the Nepalese authorities.
Air traffic control lost contact with the machine around 10 a.m. on Sunday morning. The Tara Air plane was en route from Pokhara – a popular tourist destination around 200 kilometers west of Kathmandu – to Jomsom with 19 passengers and 3 crew members.
According to the flight controller, the machine was at the time over the village of Ghorepani, which is a good 2870 meters above sea level.
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. Jomsom is only 20 minutes away from Pokhara.
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.
In addition, the Himalayan state is home to some of the most remote and difficult airstrips. The weather in Nepal’s mountains can change quickly and create dangerous flying conditions.
The Pokhara-Jomsom flight route is 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.