Nepal plane crash: Fate of 4 Indians, 18 others unclear as search and rescue operation called off due to snowfall

The airplane was located after Nepal Telecom tracked down the cellphone of the airplane's Captain Prabhakar Ghimire through the Global Positioning System (GPS) network

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Sunday, May 29, 2022, 11:32 PM IST
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Family members and relatives of passengers on board the Twin Otter aircraft operated by Tara Air, weep outside the airport in Pokhara on May 29, 2022 | (Photo by Yunish Gurung / AFP)

The fate of four members of an Indian family and 18 others on board a small plane of a Nepalese airline remained unclear after the aircraft crashed on Sunday in the mountainous region of the Himalayan nation, minutes after taking off from the tourist city of Pokhara.

According to a latest report, the search and rescue operation has been called off for today due to snowfall. Also, all the helicopters deployed for search and rescue have been called back to bases, said Premnath Thakur, General Manager, TIA.

The Twin Otter 9N-AET plane belonging to Tara Air took off at 10:15 am from Pokhara, and lost contact with the control tower 15 minutes later.

According to a Nepali Army spokesperson, the burning wreckage of the plane was spotted at Laningchgola in Mustang district.

However, bad weather and blankets of clouds have made it difficult to trace the exact location of the wreckage. The fate of the crew and passengers was therefore not known.

Family members and relatives of passengers on board the Twin Otter aircraft operated by Tara Air, weep outside the airport in Pokhara on May 29, 2022

Family members and relatives of passengers on board the Twin Otter aircraft operated by Tara Air, weep outside the airport in Pokhara on May 29, 2022 | (Photo by Yunish Gurung / AFP)

On board were four Indian nationals, two Germans and 13 Nepali passengers, besides a three-member Nepali crew.

The four Indians were identified as Ashok Kumar Tripathy, his wife Vaibhavi Bandekar (Tripathy) and their children Dhanush and Ritika. The family is currently residing in Thane city near Mumbai.

The three member crew of the aircraft was led by Captain Prabhakar Prasad Ghimire. Utsav Pokhrel was the co-pilot while Kismi Thapa was the air hostess.

Family members and relatives of passengers on board the Twin Otter aircraft operated by Tara Air, weep outside the airport in Pokhara on May 29, 2022

Family members and relatives of passengers on board the Twin Otter aircraft operated by Tara Air, weep outside the airport in Pokhara on May 29, 2022 | (Photo by Yunish Gurung / AFP)

Interestingly, the airplane was located after Nepal Telecom tracked down the cellphone of the airplane's pilot through the Global Positioning System network.

In 2016, all 23 people aboard were killed when a plane of the same airline flying the same route crashed after takeoff.

Tara Air is the newest and biggest airline service provider in the Nepalese mountains, according to the airline website. It started business in 2009 with the mission of helping develop rural Nepal.

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