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23 Killed in Nepal As Plane Crashes in Thick Fog

The second air crash in Nepal in as many years happened near Annapurna, one of the world's highest mountains and a popular destination for people who trek to its base camp.
A Twin Otter aircraft of Tara Air at Jomsom airport. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A small plane crashed in Nepal on Wednesday in bad weather, killing all 23 people on board, a police official said. It's Nepal's second air disaster in as many years.

The Twin Otter aircraft, operated by private Tara Air, was on a flight from Pokhara, 125 km (80 miles) west of the capital, Kathmandu, to Jomsom when it lost contact with air traffic control.

"It has broken into pieces," police officer Bishwaraj Khadka told Reuters from Myagdi, the town nearest the crash site. "There are no survivors." A Chinese national and a Kuwaiti citizen were among the dead. According to several sources, the other victims were Nepalese citizens, including two infants.

Officials said thick fog had enveloped the Mustang area where Jomsom is located.

Mustang is a popular hiking area on the Mount Annapurna trekking circuit. A similar aircraft crashed in west Nepal in 2014, killing 18 people.

The Twin Otter is a Canadian-made rugged, twin-turboprop aircraft seating up to 19 passengers and especially suited to operations in remote areas such as the mountains of Nepal. Known for its ability to land on short unpaved runways made of grass or dirt, it's often flown by small operators in the developing world like Tara Air. The one that crashed on Wednesday was, according to the Aviation Safety Network site, an almost brand-new model produced in 2015.

An image of the flight deck of a Twin Otter aircraft of Tara Air shows Captain Roshan Manhandar flying among the mountains of Nepal from Dolpo to Surkhet in February 2016. According to a Nepalese news site, Manhandar was the captain on the flight that crashed Wednesday. Photo by Kunda Dixit / EPA