Kathmandu/Pokhara, February 24
A small Tara Air aircraft carrying 23 people, including three crew members, en route to Jomsom of Mustang crashed today morning at Tirkhe Dhunga of Dana VDC, Myagdi district, killing everyone on board.
Apart from one Chinese and one Kuwaiti national, the remaining 21 people on board — including two infants — were Nepalis.
The plane, which took off from Pokhara was flying towards Jomsom — the gateway for trekking to Muktinath and Lo-Manthang. The crashed aircraft was a Viking Air DHC-6 Twin Otter 400 owned by Tara Air, a domestic carrier, which provides service in Nepal’s mountainous region.
The Tara Air aircraft with call sign 9N-AHH had taken off from Pokhara on its scheduled flight (TA 193) to Jomsom at 7:50am. The aircraft went out of contact 10 minutes after leaving the Pokhara airport. Following extensive search, the crashed aircraft was found at Tirkhe Dhunga of Dana VDC at 1:25pm.
Surya Khatri, chief at Jomsom Airport, said the plane had not established contact with the airport after it took off from Pokhara.
Western Regional Administrator Shankar Koirala said snowfall and rain had caused difficulties in the rescue operation. Altogether 19 bodies had been recovered from the crash site as of today evening and officials said the search operation for the remaining four on board was on.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Bisworaj Khadka, posted in Myagdi, said preparation was on to build a helipad in the area below the incident site and to fly the bodies to Pokhara. The incident site is located at a distance of five hours’ walk from Rupse Fall. Personnel of Nepal Police, Armed Police Force, Nepali Army and helicopters of NA and Air Dynasty had been mobilised for the search of the aircraft.
Senior pilot Roshan Manandhar was flying the aircraft, which had arrived in Nepal just five months ago. Manandhar was accompanied by co-pilot Dikesh Nemkul and air hostess Rama Raut, according to Tara Air.
The cause of the crash is yet to be ascertained, but a high ranking official of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal informed ‘Dana VDC and adjoining areas were enshrouded in cloud of dust on Tuesday following landslides in Mt Annapurna’s south base’.
Talking to The Himalayan Times on condition of anonymity, the official said the plane had flown into a cloud of dust and elevated to above 13,000 feet from 10,000 feet just before it crashed.*
“The dust could have jammed the gear and resulted in engine failure,” the official said, adding, “The definite cause of crash will only be known after the investigation is complete.”
The DHC6 Twin Otter 400 that crashed today was equipped with modern technology and various safety features to fly in mountainous terrain, according to Tara Air. The Series 400 possesses cutting edge avionics technology with an integrated full glass cockpit that features the enhanced ground proximity warning system, traffic collision avoidance system and a full colour weather radar.
According to the Aviation Safety Database of the Aviation Safety Network, as many as 22 plane accidents have occurred in Nepal since 2000, of which 14 involved fatalities. Last fatal crash involved a Nepal Airlines plane at Khidim of Arghakhanchi on February 16, 2014.
Five-member probe panel formed
KATHMANDU: The government has formed a five-member investigation panel to submit the report on Tara Air crash of Wednesday morning, informed Tourism Minister Ananda Prasad Pokharel. The panel led by Rajesh Raj Dali, former director general of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, comprises Aeronautical Engineer and Air Safety Specialist Deepak Bastola (serving in Nepali Army), Nepal Airlines Captain Shrawan Rijal, Simrik Airlines Engineering Director Ram Prasad Koirala and Joint Secretary of Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Suresh Acharya. The panel has been asked to submit its report within three months.- HNS
List of deceased
• Ralrashed Ahamed (Kuwait)
• Mak Siu Ying (China)
• Rebati Baral
• Muktinath Bastola
• Krishnlal Bhattachan
• Devi Jang Gurung
• Fhenjock Gurung
• Laxmi Hirachan
• Moti Bahadur KC
• Bal Krishna Niure
• Kancha Paryer
• Raj Kumar Tamang
• Binita Bhattachan
• Dilkumari Gauchan
• Pabitra KC
• Lepsang Lama
• Dolma Tshiring Sherpa
• Kamala Thakali
• Two infants
*Correction: Unit changed to feet from metres
A version of this article appears in print on February 25, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.
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