Eighteen people, including three crew members, on board the Twin Otter of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) have been confirmed dead.
The aircraft, which went missing on Sunday afternoon, crashed at Masine Lek of Dhikura VDC in Argakhanchi district. The crash site was discovered early Monday morning. Security personnel have recovered all 18 bodies. Efforts are underway to airlift them to Kathmandu.
Earlier, it was presumed that the aircraft had crashed at Khidim forest in Argakhanchi district.
The 43-year old aircraft with 9N-ABB call sign had left Pokhara Airport for Jumla at 12:43 pm. It had last contacted Bhairahawa airport at 1:13 pm. It was scheduled to reach Jumla at 1:45 pm.
Captain Shankar Shrestha, co-pilot Rabindra Banjara and air hostess Muna Maharjan were on board the ill-fated aircraft.
According to NAC, other passengers were Manab Sejuwal, Gauri Kathayat, Tek Bahadur Mahatara, Nanda Mahatara, D Mahatara, Barsha Hamal Neupane, Uma Tamang, Dr Bikalpa Polkahrel, DP Upadhyaya, Rajendra Prasad Devkota, Dipak Shrestha, D Shahi, R Chaulagain, and Danish national M Mathiesen.
The crash raises serious question on aviation safety of Nepal at a time when efforts were underway to lift the ban on Nepali aircraft to fly in European skies by the European Commission.