After the Tara Air 9N-AHH went out of contact of the airport tower at Pokhara, a team of security personnel deployed for the search found the crash site at Dana VDC at around 2:30 p.m.
In the crash, all 23 persons on board, including the three-member crew and two infants, were killed, according to Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Mahendra Pokharel, acting chief of the Western Regional Police Office.
Two foreign nationals -- a Chinese and a Kuwaiti -- are among the deceased.
“Seventeen bodies have been recovered so far. Body parts were found burnt and scattered at the crash site,” SSP Pokharel said. The identities of the bodies have yet to be established, according to him.
“The search for the others killed continues,” Pokharel added. He further informed that a joint team of Nepal Police, Nepal Army and locals has been carrying out search and salvage.
How it happened
The Tara Air flight had taken off from Pokhara airport at 7:50 a.m.for Jomsom. The twin-otter was scheduled to land at Jomsom airport at 8:11 a.m., Pokhara airport chief Deepak Baral said.
“The aircraft went out of contact of Pokhara airport 10 minutes after takeoff ( 8 a.m.),” he said.
Baral further said the aircraft had contacted Pokhara airport tower for the last time at 8 a.m, when it was over Ghorepani. As reported to the airport, the ground was visible at the time. The aircraft flew on ahead to establish contact with Jomsom airport tower.
“That was the last contact with our airport,” Baral said. He informed that the plane was confirmed missing after it failed to establish contact with Jomsom airport.
As the crash site is a very remote and difficult location, the salvage work is challenging, according to SSP Pokharel.
The site is at an altitude of around 19,000 ft. The aircraft crashed into the hills and parts have fallen some 1600 ft.
There is no proper place close to the crash site for a helicopter to land. “Security personnel are still looking for an appropriate landing spot,” he said, adding that the bodies would be airlifted to Pokhara once a good landing site is found.
According to SSP Pokharel, body parts and aircraft debris were scattered around the crash site. Most of the bodies recovered will be difficult to identity.
Salvage work is being made more difficult by worsening weather following snowfall in the high mountain areas.
“It snowed since afternoon. This has added to the challenge before the recue team. The accident site is not easily accessible by any means of transport,” Pokharel further added.
After learning about the crash, locals set out for the site. Shyam Pun, who first found the crash site, informed police.
“We heard a bang. We then informed the local police and started the search,” Pun said. “Although the site is very far from the village, we gathered some friends and trekked toward it. We finally found it,” he said.
According to Pun, bad weather has hampered the search. “Due to dense fog, visibility is poor,” he said.
The locals found aircraft parts scattered and burning all over the crash site. Some of the parts were stuck in the cliff face, according to Pun.
Security personnel have set up a camp near the crash site to guard the bodies. Once the weather improves and an appropriate place is found for landing a helicopter, the salvage work will be expedited, according to Western Regional Administrator Shankar Koirala.
Profiles of Tara Air crew members
Captain Roshan Manandhar
Roshan Manandhar, 55, the captain of the ill-fated flight 9N-AHH of Tara Air started his career in aviation with a job with Nepal Airlines Corporation. He later joined Yeti Airlines where he had been working for the last 18 years. He had joined Tara Air, a subsidiary of Yeti Airlines, in 2009 as an instructor pilot. “We were very happy to work with him. His dedication and cheerfulness had won our hearts,” said Bhim Raj Rai, spokesperson of Tara Air.
According to Rai, Captain Roshan had logged over 20,000 hours of flight time. He lived in Dallu, Kathmandu and is survived by his wife, a daughter and a son.
Airhostess Rama Raut
Rama Raut, 26, was planning to quit her job as an airhostess. Her family members said Rama wanted to leave the profession entirely as she found the job unsafe. Rama's younger brother Pramod Raut, who serves in the Nepal Police, told Republica that she was planning to quit the job next month as she was worried about her safety. “She felt that working as airhostess with the domestic airlines in Nepal was not safe,” said Pramod.
Rama, a resident of Kuleshwar, Kathmandu, joined Yeti Airlines three years ago. She had a bachelor's degree in management. Rama had left home last Monday for her duty and contacted her family from the airport. “She had had no bad experience while working as an airhostess until Wednesday. It was the first and the last one,” added Pramod.
Co-pilot Dinesh Nemkul
Dinesh Nemkul, 29, was a resident of Lalitpur. His wedding was approaching soon before he met with the unfortunate accident. “Dinesh had a very outgoing personality. We had planned to go on a hike to Chisapani when we met the last week,” said his friend Depen Shakya. “Unfortunately, that turned out to be our last conversation,” he added.
Dinesh was the only son of his parents and has one younger and two elder sisters. He had completed his pilot training in South Africa in 2014 and joined Tara Air a year ago.
There were 23 persons, including two foreigners, two infants, and three crew members, on board the Tara Air plane.
1. Rewati Baral
2. Muktinath Baskota
3. Binita Bhattachan
4. Krishnalal Bhattachan
5. Dil Kumari Gauchan
6. Devijung Gurung
7. Fhenjock Gurung
8. Laxmi Hirachan
9. Moti Bahadur KC
10. Pabitra KC
11. Lepsang Lama
12. Balkrishna Nyure
13. Kanchha Pariyar
14. Dolma Tshiring Sherpa
15. Raj Kumar Tamang
16. Kamala Thakali
17. Ralrashed Ahamad Aa of Kuwait
18. Mak Siu Ying of China
19. Captain Roshan Manandhar
20. Co-pilot Dikesh Nemkul
21. Air Hostess Roma Raut
Identity of two infants remains unknown.
Fatal crashes in Nepal since 1991
Date Airlines Fatality Location
24 Feb, 2016 Tara Air 23 Myagdi
16 Feb, 2014 Nepal Airlines 18 Arghakhanchi
28 Sept, 2012 Sita Air 19 Kathmandu
14 May, 2012 Agni Air 15 Jomsom
18 Oct, 2011 Nepal Army 6 Baglung
25 Sept, 2011 Buddha Air 19 Lalitpur
15 Dec, 2010 Tara Air 22 Okhaldhunga
24 Aug, 2010 Agni Air 14 Makawanpur
08 Oct, 2008 Yeti Airlines 18 Lukla
21 Jun, 2006 Yeti Airlines 9 Jumla
25 May, 2004 Yeti Airlines 3 Lukla
22 Aug, 2002 Shangri-La Air 18 Kaski
17 Jul, 2002 Skyline Airways 4 Surkhet
27 Jul, 2000 Royal Nepal Airlines 25 Bajhang
25 Dec, 1999 Skyline Airways 10 Simara
05 Sept, 199 Necon Air 15 Kathmandu
07 Jul, 1999 Hinduja 5 Kathmandu
18 Jan 1999 Necon Air 5 Jumla
21 Aug 1998 Lumbini Airways 18 Ghorepani
17 Jan 1995 Royal Nepal Airlines 2 Kathmandu
31 Jul 1993 Everest Air 19 Chitwan
28 Sept, 1992 PIA 167 Kathmandu
31 Jul, 1992 Thai Airways 113 Kathmandu
10 Jul, 1991 Nepal Army 3 Surkhet