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Passenger plane carrying 18 missing in Nepal

Kathmandu, Feb 17 (): A Nepal Airlines plane carrying 18 people on board flying in bad weather went missing on Sunday and all the passengers travelling in the plane are feared to have crashed in Nepal’s mountainous west, officials said.

The Nepal Airlines, Twin Otter, was on its way from a popular tourist resort to a town in western Nepal, police said. The plane took off from Pokhara airport at 12:40 pm and disappeared 35 minutes later.

The plane crashed at around 1 p.m. in the forests near Arghakhachi. Tourism secretary of Nepal, Shushil Ghimire, said that its burning wreckage had been located. Another aviation official, Dharmendra Pandey, said villagers in Argakhachi district reported that the plane had crashed in a remote mountainous area.

Civil aviation officials said there was almost no chance that anyone could be rescued from the crash site. The missing plane was carrying 18 people, including a Danish national, a child, pilot and two flight attendants. Identities of other passengers, however, are yet to be known.

An official at Katmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport blamed bad weather for the crash, saying it had been snowing for most part of the day. It was snowing this weekend in parts of the mountainous region, and visibility was low due to fog.

Two choppers that belong to Nepal Army and Fishtail Air are unable to land anywhere in the doubted areas due to bad weather.

Special rescue teams from Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and Nepal Army have been struggling to find the missing plane’s locations. The plane did not have de-icing equipment, which is needed in such conditions, the official said.

Nepal, which has tourism as a major sponsor to its economy, has suffered a number of air crashes in recent years, which have usually been credited to poor management, maintenance and inexperienced pilots.

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