Nepal Airlines Flight Missing

Sunday, February 16, 2014
By George Hatcher

Contact photographer Michael Fritz

Eighteen people are missing over the Himalayan mountains of central Nepal on a Nepal Airlines Twin Otter en route from Pokhara to Jumla. The plane had stopped in Pokhara to refuel. The crew lost contact with Bhairawa ATC a quarter hour after taking off. The plane never arrived in Jumla.

The plane’s first flight was in 1971.

The route from Pokhara to Jumla flies over Dhorpatan and Rukum, and zig zags over tall mountains.

The last radio contact was at 13:13.

A fire was spotted in a forested area near Khidim but the search was called off due to weather conditions. Locals also reported hearing a loud noise. The Fishtail Air search helicopter was unable to land due to poor visibility and the air search was called off. On foot, the search continues with the Nepal Army, a team from Palpa and Mujhum Police.

The wreckage has not been located but the crash site is presumed to be on the border of Argakhanchi, Gulmi and Palpa districts, one and half hour walking uphill from Khidim village in Argakhanchi district.

There were three crew and fifteen passengers, all but one of whom were from Nepal. The foreigner is Dutch.

The crew was made up of Captain Shankar Shrestha, co-pilot Rabinda Banjara and Air hostess Muna Maharjan. The names of the passengers have not been released.

One child was also aboard.

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