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‘No One Is Alive’: At Least 14 Bodies Recovered From Nepal Plane Crash

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Rescue workers recovered 14 bodies on Monday after a daylong effort to reach the site of a plane crash in the rocky heights of the Himalayas, according to the Civil Aviation Authority in Nepal.

A Canadian-made De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter, operated by Tara Air and carrying 19 passengers and three crew members, took off on Sunday morning from the central Nepali city of Pokhara and was headed for Jomsom, a tourist destination popular with trekkers.

The flight normally takes about 30 minutes, but the plane went down in bad weather with 13 Nepalis, four Hindu pilgrims from India and two German trekkers on board. Officials said they did not expect to find any survivors.

Rainfall and fog made it difficult for rescuers to reach the site. Helicopters deployed on Sunday by the Nepali Army and private companies were diverted to Kathmandu and Pokhara because of low visibility.

After conditions improved on Monday morning, a helicopter carrying a senior army official, a police inspector and a guide managed to reach the location, at an elevation of 14,500 feet near the village of Thasang in the Mustang district. A total of 15 rescuers had reached the spot by noon, the authorities said.

“No one is alive,” said Narendra Shahi, an international mountain guide, who was deployed to the crash site as part of the rescue operation. “The plane has crashed into pieces. It’s so heartbreaking.”

Bishnu Kumar K.C., a spokesman for the Nepal Police, said the bodies would be collected and taken to Pokhara or Kathmandu, the capital.

Jomsom is a favorite of trekkers because of its breathtaking snow-capped mountains. Hindu pilgrims from India, Nepal and other countries also visit to pray at the Muktinath Temple.

To reach remote mountainous places like Jomsom, residents and visitors rely on small, twin-engine planes. Crashes are relatively common given the frequent bad weather, rocky terrain and aging plane fleets.

In 2016, 23 people were killed when a Tara Air plane went down while on the same route as the one on Sunday. In 2018, a passenger plane from Bangladesh crashed in Kathmandu, killing 49 of the 71 people on board. In response to the poor safety record of Nepali airlines, the European Union has barred the planes from its airspace.

Bhadra Sharma reported from Kathmandu, and Karan Deep Singh from New Delhi.

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