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Plane with 22 on board missing in Nepal’s mountains

A small plane with 22 people on board is missing in Nepal’s mountains (Niranjan Shrestha/AP)
A small plane with 22 people on board is missing in Nepal’s mountains (Niranjan Shrestha/AP)

A small plane flying on a popular tourist route with 22 people on board is missing in Nepal’s mountains, an official said on Sunday.

The Tara Air plane, which was on a 15-minute scheduled flight to the mountain town of Jomsom, took off from the resort town of Pokhara, 125 miles (200km) east of Kathmandu. It lost contact with the airport tower shortly afterwards.

Police official Ramesh Thapa said there was no information on the turboprop Twin Otter plane and a search is under way.

There were six foreigners on board the plane, including four Indians and two Germans, a police official said.

A sign for Tara Air is seen as a team of climbers prepares to leave for a rescue operation from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal
A sign for Tara Air is seen as a team of climbers prepares to leave for a rescue operation from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal (Niranjan Shreshta/AP)

It has been raining in the area for the past few days but flights have been operating normally.

Planes on that route fly between mountains before landing in a valley.

It is a popular route with foreign hikers who trek on the mountain trails and also with Indian and Nepalese pilgrims who visit the revered Muktinath temple.

According to plane tracking data from flightradar24.com, the 43-year-old aircraft took off from Pokhara at 0410 GMT and transmitted its last signal at 0422 GMT at an altitude of 12,825ft (3,900 metres).

In 2016, a Tara Air Twin Otter flying the same route crashed after take-off, killing all 23 people aboard.

In 2012, an Agni Air plane also flying from Pokhara to Jomsom crashed, killing 15 people. Six people survived.

In 2014, a Nepal Airlines plane flying from Pokhara to Jumla crashed, killing all 18 on board.

In 2018, a US-Bangla passenger plane from Bangladesh crashed on landing in Kathmandu, killing 49 of the 71 people aboard.