A plane carrying 22 people on board crashed while flying over the mountains of Nepal, it has been learned.
The Tara Air Twin Otter plane was traveling from Pokhara to Jomsom before disappearing at around 9.55am local time.
According to the Kathamndu Post, the plane was carrying 13 Nepalese, four Indians, two Germans and three crew members at the time of its disappearance.
Local reports indicate that the Tara Air 9 NAET twin-engine plane crashed in Lete, Mustang,
Witnesses in the mountainous terrain reportedly heard “an unusual sound” which could have been a “bang”, local police officer Ram Kumar Dani told ANI.
He explained, “Residents of Titi called us and informed us that they had heard an unusual noise as if there had been a bang. We are deploying a helicopter to the area for the search operation.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior confirmed that two helicopters raced to search for the missing plane and that a Nepalese army helicopter is also expected to join in the rescue.
The area has seen some rain for the past few days, but there were no problems with other flights on the route, which normally involve flying between mountains and landing in a valley.
Tourists often walk along scenic paths and pilgrims head to the nearby temple of Muktinath.
Smita Sharma, a journalist in India, tweeted: “Unfortunate news of a tragedy from Nepal.
“Hoping passengers are rescued. This is a difficult area which has also seen accidents in the past. Reminder of the horrific plane crash in 2012 in the same area. Prayers for all.”
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A Tara Air plane also crashed in 2016 in the country, known for its changeable weather and huge mountain ranges.
Its website states that the company has five Twin Otter aircraft in its fleet and added, “No other airline in Nepal serves remote STOL (short take-off and landing) sectors as extensively and frequently as we do.
“We are transporting essential supplies to the hinterland, including food grains, medicine, relief equipment and flying for rescue purposes.”