KATHMANDU, Nepal (Associated Press) – Rescuers searching a mountainside in Nepal on Monday retrieved the bodies of 17 of the 22 people aboard a plane that crashed the day before, officials said.
Airline spokesman Sudarshan Bartola said the search was continuing for the remaining people.
Bertola said rescuers believed some bodies were hanging under the wreckage. He said rescuers working with their bare hands were unable to move the metallic pile.
The Tara Air Turoprop Twin Otter lost contact with the airport tower on Sunday while flying a scheduled 20-minute flight through the region’s deep river gorges and mountaintops.
Tara Aviation said four Indians and two Germans were on board. It added that the three crew members and the other passengers were Nepalese.
The wreck was found by villagers searching the area for the Yarsagumba mushroom, commonly referred to as Himalayan Viagra, according to local news reports.
The new Situpati website quoted one of the villagers, Peshal Magar, as saying that they heard about the missing plane on Sunday but were able to reach the site on Monday morning only after smelling of fuel.
Magar said it appears the plane may have crossed the top of a smaller mountain and then crashed into a larger one.
Local news reports said the passengers included two Nepalese families, one with four and the other with seven.
Aerial images of the crash site showed parts of the planes scattered on rocks and moss on the side of a mountain gorge.
The military said the plane crashed in Sanusauer in the Mustang district near the mountainous town of Jomsom as it was heading after taking off from Pokhara resort, 200 km west of Kathmandu.
According to tracking data from flightradar24.com, the 43-year-old plane took off from Pokhara at 9:55 am and sent its last signal at 10:07 am at 12825 feet (3900 metres).
The plane destination is popular with foreign trekkers trekking its mountainous trails, and with Indian and Nepalese pilgrims visiting the revered Muktinath Temple.
The Twin Otter, a durable aircraft originally built by Canadian aircraft manufacturer De Havilland, has been in service in Nepal for about 50 years, during which it has had about 21 accidents, according to aviationnepal.com.
The aircraft is known for its upper wing and fixed landing gear, for its durability and ability to take off and land on short runways.
Aircraft production originally ended in the 1980s. Another Canadian company, Viking Air, brought the model back into production in 2010.
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