18 feared dead after plane goes missing in Nepal

Kathmandu: A Nepal Airlines plane carrying 15 passengers and three crew members has gone missing shortly after take off from a popular tourist resort, police and an airline spokesman said.

“The Nepal Airlines plane with 15 passengers took off from Pokhara airport at 1.30 pm and disappeared 15 minutes later,” said Nepal police spokesman Ganesh KC.

A total of 18 people were on board, 14 adult passengers, plus one infant and three crew, an airline spokesman said. “One of the passengers is from Denmark,” said spokesman Ram Hari Sharma. The rest of those on board are from Nepal.

The airline has alerted police to “find the plane’s location” and are “preparing for rescue operations,” Sharma said. The state-run carrier was travelling from Pokhara to the town of Jumla, 353 kilometre west of the capital Kathmandu, when air traffic controllers lost contact with the pilot.

A rescue helicopter was trying to reach the area where contact with the plane was lost, but weather conditions are making it difficult. The incident highlights safety concerns about the Himalayan nation’s aircraft.

Previous air crashes in Nepal
>> A Chinese tourist and a local pilot were killed when an aircraft crashed into a hill in Pokhara, last October.
>> In May, another plane operated by Nepal Airlines crashed while attempting to land at a mountain airstrip in northern Nepal, injuring all 21 people on board.
>> The European Union in December black-listed all the country’s airlines, citing their poor safety record, and banned them from flying to the EU.

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