Nepal passenger plane: Tara Air flight with 21 people on board goes missing over mountains

Airport officials said they lost contact with the aircraft eight minutes after take-off

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The Independent Online

A small passenger plane with 21 people on board has gone missing over a mountainous region in Nepal.

Airport official, Yogendra Kuwar said they lost contact with the Tara airlines flight eight minutes after take-off.

The twin-prop plane had taken off from Pokhara, a resort town west of Kathmandu, at 7:55am local time (2:10 GMT)  on an 18 minute flight north to Jomsom, the starting point for trekkers going into mountainous areas.

Tara Air spokesman, Bhim Rai told CNN two of the passengers were foreigners - one from China and another from Kuwait. 

Mr Rai said the weather was clear when the flight took off and that the plane was new, having only been imported from Canada last September.

File photo shows a Tara Air DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft, similar to one that went missing

The Director General of Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority, Sanjiv Gautam, told the BBC: "We are surprised to know that it has gone missing."

There are no landing strips between Pokhara and Jomsom airports and a helicopter search has been affected by poor weather conditions.

Since planes started flying in Nepal in 1949, 700 people have been killed in 70 different plane crashes.

In 2013, the European Union banned Nepalese Airlines from flying there.