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Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 16:39

23 dead as Nepal plane crashes

By Agencies

23 dead as Nepal plane crashes

KATHMANDU, Nepal - The wreckage of an aircraft carrying 23 people on board, which went missing earlier in the day, has been found, said Nepal's aviation minister.

Ananda Prasad Pokharel, Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation,  told Xinhua, "The crashed plane has been found in a forest in Myagdi District".

"It has broken into pieces," police officer Bishwaraj Khadka told Reuters from Myagdi. "There are no survivors."

Officials said thick fog had enveloped the Mustang area where Jomsom is located. The aircraft reportedly crashed after colliding with trees.

Local police say the bodies at the crash site are barely identifiable.

The plane operated by private carrier Tara Airlines was carrying 20 passengers and three crew members.

Locals informed police they noticed a fire in the forest of Rupse area in Myagdi district, some 300 kilometers from the capital city.

23 dead as Nepal plane crashes
Family members of a plane crash victims break down while they wait for the information about the accident in Pokhara Domestic Airport, Nepal, Feb 24, 2016. (M B Astha via AP)

One of the tourists on board was from China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

The Chinese Embassy in Nepal confirmed that the female passenger's name is Mak Siu-ying.

Earlier, Bhim Raj Rai, Media Officer of the Tara Airlines informed Xinhua one Chinese and one Kuwaiti national were among the passengers on board. The remaining were Nepalese nationals. The passengers also included two infants.

The Twin Otter Plane with the registration number 9NA-HH, flying to Jomsom from Pokhara on Wednesday took off at 7:47 am local time, but lost contact with the control tower nine minutes later. The flight distance between Pokhara and Jomsom is only 20 minutes.

Earlier in the day, airport official Yogendra Kuwar said it was only an 18-minute flight and that there were no landing strips in between.

Helicopters searched the route for hours after the plane was reported missing, but were hampered by poor weather conditions. Searchers were finally able to locate the wreckage after residents of Rupshe, a small village, reported having heard a loud explosion.

Jomsom is the starting point for trekkers going into mountainous areas. It is popular with both foreign tourists visiting the Mount Annapurna and Mustang region for trekking, and for Hindu pilgrims visiting the Muktinath temple.

Only small planes can fly the route, which goes between mountains.

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