Wreckage of plane with 22 on board found in Nepal mountains

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KATHMANDU, Nepal — The wreckage of a plane lost in Nepal’s mountains was found Monday scattered on a mountainside and 14 of the 22 people on board were confirmed dead, the army said.

Rescuers recovered 14 bodies from the crash site, said Teknath Sitaula of Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu. The search for the wreckage site is ongoing, but there was not yet any word about survivors.

Aerial photos of the crash site showed aircraft parts scattered on rocks and moss on the side of a mountain gorge.

The Tara Air turboprop Twin Otter lost contact with the airport tower Sunday while flying in an area of deep river gorges and mountaintops on a 20-minute flight.

The army said the plane crashed in Sanosware in Mustang district close to the mountain town of Jomsom where it was heading 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 aircraft took off from Pokhara at 9: 55 a.m. (04: 10 GMT) and transmitted its last signal at 10: 07 a.m. (04: 22 GMT) at an altitude of 12,825 feet (3,900 meters).

Four Indians and two Germans were on the plane. Three crew members were Nepali citizens, as well as the other passengers.

The plane’s destination is popular with foreign hikers who trek the mountain trails and also with Indian and Nepalese pilgrims who visit the revered Muktinath temple.

The Twin Otter, a rugged plane originally built by Canadian aircraft manufacturer De Havilland, has been in service in Nepal for about 50 years, during which it has been involved in about 21 accidents, according to aviationnepal.com.

The plane, with its top-mounted wing and fixed landing gear, is prized for its durability and its ability to take off and land on short runways.

Production of the planes originally ended in the 1980s. Another Canadian company, Viking Air, brought the model back into production in 2010.

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