Wreckage of missing aircraft found
Rescue operation underway
The helicopter belonging to the Nepal Army spotted rubbles of the crashed plane during an aerial search in Arghakhanchi district, 226 kilometres west of the Capital, from the height of some 4,300 meter this morning.
"The plane was traced at Masine Lek of Arghakhachi," Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Ram Hari Sharma said.
According to Ganesh KC, spokesperson to Nepal Police, security personnel have reached the crash site for the rescue operation in three helicopters. However, the exact condition of the passengers is yet to be ascertained.
The twin otter crashed on Sunday afternoon minutes after it took off from the Pokhara Airport .
A child and a Danish national were among the passengers on board the aircraft.
While officials are still gathering new details of the crash, early reports indicated that heavy rain and snow en-route may have led to the mid afternoon tragedy.
The 9N-ABB aircraft that was scheduled to land at 1:45pm at Jumla Airport had gone out of contact with air traffic control (ATC) since its last contact with Bhairahawa tower at 1:13pm. The aircraft had taken off from Pokhara Airport at 12:43 pm.
Within less than an hour, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (Caan) declared emergency after no contact with the pilot could be established.
Though the visibility of Pokhara Airport was 7-km and it was normal at Jumla Airport, airline and government officials suspect the weather might have suddenly deteriorated on the way shortly after the take-off .
Normally, under the visual flights rules, aircraft are permitted to fly when the visibility is 5-km.
Two helicopters were immediately deployed for rescue in the Khidim village, however, they were not able to land at the site due to inclement weather. The air rescue operation was stopped later in the evening.
This is the second NAC Twin Otter crash in less than a year. On May 16, 2013, another Canadian made aircraft had crashed at Jomsom Airport in Mustang district while attempting to land.
Twenty-one people, including three crew members, were on board the chartered plane that skidded off the runway and plunged 25 meters down into the Kali Gandaki River. However, there were no casualties.
Nepal witnessed atleast two major air disasters every year from 2008 to 2012. In December 5, 2013, the European Commission had banned all Nepal-based airlines from flying into the European Union, terming them “unsafe”.
The EC had issued travel advisory to the European operators and travel agents, not to use a Nepali carrier as part of a journey to Nepal. The commission and Internationl Civil Aviation Organisation, the global aviation watchdog, are yet to release their final report on Nepal’s aviation standard.
13 bodies recovered
According to Lumbini Zone Police chief Mingmar Sherpa, dead bodies of 13 passengers have been recovered from the crash site.
Among them, four bodies have been identified.
Security personnel from Nepal Police, Nepal Army and Armed Police Force have been deployed for the rescue operation.
Police have been facing difficulty to carry out rescue mission due to excessive cold weather.
Posted on: 2014-02-17 08:57