18 feared killed in Nepal passenger plane crash

  • Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
  • Updated: Feb 16, 2014 17:34 IST

All 18 persons on board a Nepal Airlines plane are believed to have been killed when a small twin otter aircraft reportedly crashed during a routine flight in Nepal's Arghakhanchi district on Sunday.

The aircraft belonging to the state carrier lost contact with ground soon after taking off from the tourist town of Pokhara while on its way to Jumla, located some 214 miles west of Kathmandu.

Nearly three hours after it went missing local TV channel reported that debris of the aircraft was detected at Khidim, located around 30 kilometres from the district headquarters of Arghakhanchi.

The police search and rescue team has been sent to the site but there is no official confirmation of the crash yet.

"The aircraft with 15 passengers and 3 crew members went missing soon after it left for Jumla. But there is no news yet of a crash," said Nepal Police spokesperson Ganesh KC.

According to a Nepal Airlines official the aircraft was flying from Kathmandu to Jumla and had stopped at Pokhara for refueling. It took off from the tourist town at 12.40pm and soon lost contact with ground.

"Since there has been no contact yet with the aircraft we fear that it may have crashed," said MK Moktan, representative of Nepal Airlines based in Pokhara.

He added that rescue helicopters belonging to Nepal Army and private operators have been sent to Khidim, but they have not been able to reach the alleged crash site due to poor weather.

The latest incident is another setback for the aviation industry in Nepal which has seen several crashes in recent years.

In December last year European Union had blacklisted all airlines operators in the Himalayan nation for their poor safety record.

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