The Twin Otter plane belonging to Tara Air that was reported missing in a mountainous region of Nepal earlier on Wednesday morning is confirmed to have crashed, killing all 23 aboard.
The latest development comes after four hours of intense rescue operations, which involved the use of three helicopters, was confirmed to have crashed in the treacherous terrain of Soli Ghoptebhir in Myagdi district, with all 20 passengers and three crew members confirmed to have died in the disaster.
"The plane was on fire and it is still burning," Police constable Phool Kumar Thapa Magar was quoted in a report on The Kathmandu Post. More police squads are said to be on their way towards the site.
Among the deceased were a Kuwaiti and a Chinese national, as well as two infants. The aircraft was piloted by Roshan Manandhar.
The plane, which was travelling between the tourist hub of Pokhara and Jomson in a 20-minute flight, had lost contact with the Pokhara Air Traffic Control (ATC) 10 minutes after takeoff at 7:50 am.
"See you back, Ghorepani normal, good day," were reportedly the last words from pilot Manandhar, not voicing any concern whatsoever during his final conversation with the Pokhara ATC.
The reason for the crash is yet to be fully ascertained, with the weather at the origin and destination airports said to be favourable. The areas adjoining the crash site were said to be covered in a cloud of dust following dry landslides in Mt Annapurna's south base.
It is also known that weather at both origin and destination airports was favourable and the airport was cleared for departure by the control tower at Pokhara," read the statement released by Tara Air following the incident according to a report on The Himalayan Times.
The Viking 9H-AHH Twin Otter aircraft boasted of cutting edge avionics technology with an integrated full glass cockpit, with features such as an enhanced ground proximity warning system.
Aviation in Nepal has had a turbulent history, with more than 70 different crashes involving planes and helicopters being reported since the first aircraft landed in Nepal in 1949. More than 700 people were reported to have been killed in those crashes.