A small passenger plane that went missing in bad weather has crashed into a Himalayan mountain killing all 23 people on board, Nepalese authorities confirmed. Air control lost contact with the Twin Otter aircraft operated by the domestic Tara Air shortly after it took off from the resort town of Pokhara, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Kathmandu.
The plane was due to fly a short 18-minute route between mountain peaks to Jomsom, a town located at about 2700m of altitude that serves as springboard for Himalayan trekkers heading for Mount Annapurna and Mustang region.
Helicopters scouted the route for hours but the research effort was slowed down by poor weather conditions. They eventually found the wreckage, which was still burning after impacting on a mountain side near the village of Dana in Myagdi district. Charred bodies could be seen inside.
Police said the three crew members and 20 passengers, which included two children and two foreigners from China and Kuwait, were killed. The plane appeared to have flown directly into the mountain, Police official Harihari Yogi told AP.
Tara Air said it was cooperating with an investigation into the incident. "With deepest regret and extreme shock, Tara Air extends our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those who were killed in the crash," the airline said in a statement.
"We are working to assist the families and friends of the passengers and crew," it added. "We cannot undo the pain and grief they fell but we can share their burden of dealing with this tragedy. This is an extremely sad day for all of us at Tara Air."
Nepal's aviation industry is infamous for its poor safety record. All local airlines were blacklisted by the EU in 2013. The Himalayan times released a passenger list of flight TA193.