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Plane missing in Nepal with 22 on board, including 4 Indians: ELT locator detected in Mastang
The Nepalese Tara airline, carrying 22 passengers and crew, including four Indians, was flying from the tourist town of Pokhara to Jomsom in mountainous north-western Mustang district on Sunday morning. The crash site was located at Kowang village in Mastang by GPS tracking of the pilot's mobile by the army's rescue team as well as the ELT. Villagers had first reported of the sound of crash. Bad weather was hampering search operations which have been called off in the evening. It will resume Monday morning. The four Indians have been identified from the passenger list as Ashok Kumar Tripathi, Dhanush Tripathi, Ritika Tripathi and Vaibhawi Tripathi. The Indian embassy emergency hotline number is :+977-9851107021.

KATHMANDU, May 29: The passenger plane missing in Nepal since Sunday morning has been located at Kowang village in Mastang, north-west of Kathmandu, through the plane's emergency beacon. However, as the night fell search operations were suspended because of bad weather and the difficult terrain. Efforts to reach the spot will resume in the morning.

The private airline was carrying 22 passengers and crew on board, including four Indians and two Germans (not Japanese as reported earlier), airport officials said. Two helicopters were deployed to look for the missing plane in Jomsom in mountainous Mustang in the morning, but bad weather hampered the search operation. Army teams were also despatched for search by air and ground. Visibility was very poor. Hardly anything could be seen, it is learnt.

The Civil Aviation Authority said the crash site was located through the emergency locator transmitter (ELT). The ELT is an emergency beacon used in aircraft to indicate the location when in distress. The GPS traction of the pilot's mobile also helped. Some villagers had earlier reported of a sound of crash.

“NA has halted all efforts of search and rescue for today due to loss of daylight and adverse weather. The search will be resumed early in the morning tomorrow both from air and ground. Our search and rescue team with HC is on standby at Jomsom,” the army said.

The Tara Air 9 NAET twin-engine aircraft lost contact while flying from the tourist town of Pokhara, 200 km northwest of Capital Kathmandu, to Jomsom in mountainous Mustang district, 80 km to the northwest, a 15-minute flight. The plane took off at 9:55 am (local time).

Reports said the plane had reached Jomsom but was seen being diverted towards Mt. Dhaulagiri, to the west. It was believed to have crashed in Lete in Mustang as people were reported to have heard the crashing siound.

Four Indians

The airline later issued a list of passengers, four of whom were identified as Indians, besides two Germans and 13 Nepali passengers and a three-member Nepali crew. The four Indians have been identified on the passenger list as Ashok Kumar Tripathi, Dhanush Tripathi, Ritika Tripathi, and Vaibhawi Tripathi.

Tara Air claims to have the "widest domestic flights network" in Nepal. "No other airlines in Nepal flies to the remote STOL (short takeoff and landing) sectors as extensively and frequently as we do." The airline operates seven STOL aircrafts - five Twin Otter (DHC 6/300) and two Dornier (DO 228) aircrafts.

In 2016, a Twin Otter turboprop aircraft of Tara Air crashed in the western district of Myagdi, killing 23 passengers. However, Nepal, situated in the Himalayas, with its mountainous terrain, has had fewer air accidents.

Muktinath temple: In the valley of Mustang near Tibet border is situated Muktinath temple, a Vishnu temple sacred to both the Hindus and the Buddhists. It is called Hindus' 'mukti desam' or 'mukti kshetra' or 'place of salvation.' The temple can be reached via Pokhara. By road, the distance from Kathmandu to Pokhara is 200 km. From Pokhara it's 15 minutes by air to Jomsom (one of the world's most extreme airports). From Jomsom it takes two hours by road to reach Muktinath temple. At an altitude of 3,750 metres, the temple valley is surrounded by snow-clad mountains.

Jomsom: Jomsom, also in Mustang district, is famous for trekking and climbing.

Pokhara: A tourist destination. The Himalayan range and lakes can be seen from Pokhara Valley. Pokhara, in central Nepal, is also famous for boating, trekking, rafting, canoeing and bungee jumping. Annapurna can be seen on way from here. Pokhara is in the Kaski district of Gandaki province in central Nepal.

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