Plane wreckage found in the mountains of Nepal; 21 bodies recovered

KATHMANDU: Rescuers searching a mountainside in Nepal on Monday found the bodies of 21 of 22 people aboard a plane that crashed the day before, officials said.
The search for the remaining person continues, Kathmandu airport spokesman Tek Nath Sitaula said.
Salvage efforts were delayed because some bodies ended up under the wreckage of the plane. Rescuers working with their bare hands struggled to move the metal debris.
Aerial photos of the crash site showed aircraft parts scattered among rocks and moss on the side of a mountain gorge.
The Tara Air turboprop Twin Otter lost contact with the airport tower on Sunday during a scheduled 20-minute flight in an area of ​​deep river gorges and mountain peaks.
Relatives spent most of the day waiting at the airport for news about their loved ones.
There were four Indians and two Germans on the plane, Tara Air said. The three crew members and other passengers were Nepali nationals, it said.
The German news agency dpa reported that the two Germans were a man and a woman from the western state of Hesse.
“Unfortunately, at this point we have to assume that the two people are no longer alive,” dpa quoted a spokesman for the Hesse Interior Ministry as saying. “From the side of the Hessian police, the relatives have already been informed and care measures have been taken.”
According to local news reports, the passengers included two Nepalese families, one with four members and the other with seven.
The military said the plane crashed in Sanosware in the Mustang district, close to the mountain town of Jomsom, where it was headed after taking off from the resort town of Pokhara, 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Kathmandu.
According to tracking data from flightradar24.com, the 43-year-old plane took off from Pokhara at 9:55 a.m. and sent out its last signal at 10:07 a.m. at an altitude of 12,825 feet (3,900 meters).
The plane’s destination is popular with foreign hikers trekking the mountain trails, and with Indian and Nepalese pilgrims visiting the revered Muktinath Temple.
The wreckage was found by villagers searching the area for the Yarsagumba fungus, commonly referred to as Himalaya Viagra, according to local news reports.
Setopati’s new website quoted a villager, Bishal Magar, as saying they heard about the missing plane on Sunday but couldn’t reach the location until Monday morning after tracking the smell of fuel.
Magar said it appeared the plane had snapped the top of a smaller mountain and then crashed into a larger mountain.
The Twin Otter, a rugged aircraft originally built by Canadian aircraft manufacturer De Havilland, has been in service in Nepal for some 50 years and has been involved in about 21 accidents, according to aviationnepal.com.
The aircraft, with its top-mounted wing and fixed landing gear, is valued for its durability and its ability to take off and land on short runways.
Production of the aircraft originally ended in the 1980s. Another Canadian company, Viking Air, brought the model back into production in 2010.

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