Kathmandu: A small plane with 23 people, including two foreigners, on board on Wednesday went missing while flying in a mountainous area in Nepal.
The aircraft of Tara Air was on a 20-minute flight from Pokhara, a tourist hub located 200 km west of the capital Kathmandu, to Jomsom but lost contact after takeoff.
Mustang Police Chief DSP Harihar Yogi confirmed that the Twin Otter is missing. The aircraft was carrying 20 passengers, including two foreigners and two children. There were three crew members in the aircraft.
The search operation for Tara Viking 9H-AHH Twin Otter aircraft, flying to Jomsom town from Pokhara city, has begun, Xinhua reported.
Tara Air said it has received reports of a missing plane. Two helicopters have been sent to find the missing plane, said Chief District Officer of Kaski district, Hari Prasad Mainali.
"An army helicopter and a helicopter of Dynasty Air have already been sent for the search operation," said Bhim Raj Rai, Media Officer at Tara Airlines.
The aircraft might have crashed in Dana village which lies between Mustang and Myagdi district in northern Nepal, a police officer from Pokhara Zonal Police office quoted local residents as saying.
The cause of the incident could not be immediately known. However,Dana Village Development Committee and adjoining areas were enshrouded in cloud of dust yesterday following dry landslides in Mount Annapurna.
Local residents said they have heard a huge sound of explosion and fire in the remote mountainous area.
"Weather of both Pokhara and Jomsom is fine today (Wednesday). So we have no clue about what went wrong," Rai said.
Since 1949 - the year the first aircraft landed in Nepal - there have been more than 70 different crashes involving planes and helicopters, in which more than 700 people have been killed. In 2013, the European Union banned all Nepalese airlines from flying there.
In 2014, a Nepal Airlines plane crashed into the side of a snow-clad mountain in the country's west, killing 18 people.
The aircraft was added to the fleet last September.
With inputs from agencies