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Plane wreckage found in mountains of Nepal; 21 bodies recovered

Rescuers searching a mountainside in Nepal on Monday have recovered the bodies of 21 of the 22 people who were on board a plane that crashed a day earlier, officials said.

The search for the remaining person is continuing, said Kathmandu Airport spokesman Tek Nath Sitaula.

Recovery efforts were delayed because some bodies were pinned under the wreckage of the plane. Rescuers who worked with their bare hands had difficulty moving the metal debris.

Aerial photos of the crash site showed aircraft parts strewn on rock and moss at the edge of a mountain gorge.

Tara Air’s turboprop Twin Otter lost contact with the airport tower on Sunday while flying a scheduled 20-minute flight in an area of ​​deep river canyons and mountain peaks.

Relatives waited almost all day at the airport for news from their loved ones.

Tara Air said there were four Indians and two Germans on the plane. The three crew members and other passengers were Nepalese nationals, it said.

As the German news agency dpa reported, the two Germans were a man and a woman from Hesse.

“Unfortunately, we have to assume at this point in time that the two people are no longer alive,” the dpa quoted a spokesman for the Hessian Ministry of the Interior as saying. “On the part of the Hessian police, relatives have already been informed and support measures have been initiated.”

According to local news reports, the passengers included two Nepali families, one of four and the other of seven members.

The army said the plane crashed in Sanosware in Mustang district near 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 aircraft took off from Pokhara at 9:55 a.m. and sent 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 trekkers trekking its mountain trails and Indian and Nepalese pilgrims visiting the revered Muktinath Temple.

The wreck was found by villagers who had been searching in the area for the Yarsagumba mushroom, commonly referred to as Himalayan 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 were only able to reach the site on Monday morning after following the smell of fuel .

Magar said it appeared as if the plane hit the top of a smaller mountain and then hit a larger mountain.

The Twin Otter, a rugged aircraft originally built by Canadian aircraft manufacturer De Havilland, has operated in Nepal for about 50 years and has been involved in about 21 accidents, according to Aviationnepal.com.

The top-mounted wing, fixed landing gear aircraft is valued for its durability and 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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