Plane crashes in Nepal midway through 19-minute flight; 23 feared dead – CNN

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“We are working to assist the families and friends of the passengers and crew,” Tara Air said on its website. “We cannot undo the pain and grief they feel, but we can share their burden of dealing with this tragedy.”

Contact lost eight minutes into flight, official says

The Twin Otter plane was supposed to be in the air for only 19 minutes after it took off around 7:50 a.m. Wednesday (9:05 p.m. ET Tuesday) from the city of Pokhara heading to the town of Jomsom, Rai said.

But eight minutes in, contact was lost.

Soon after, Myagdi district residents saw flames shooting up from a forest and called security officials, Nepali Tourism and Aviation Minister Ananda Pokharel said. It didn’t take long for arriving authorities to spot the plane’s wreckage.

They’re now trying to figure out why the aircraft went down.

Airline: Plane was new, weather was clear

Rai said the weather was clear when the plane took off Wednesday morning. And the Twin Otter aircraft was new, imported from Canada last September.

On its website, Tara Air describes itself as “the newest and biggest airline service provider in the Nepalese mountains,” with seven aircraft in its fleet.

The airline said its mission is to help develop rural Nepal. The region where the plane crashed is a notoriously windy, cold and, like much of Nepal, mountainous.

In 2012, an Agni Air plane flying the same route from Pokhara to Jomsom crashed, killing 15 people. Six people survived.

A technical problem prevented that plane from landing normally, said Bindesh Lal Karna of the Rescue Coordination Committee at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.

The pilot decided to head back to Pokhara, but as he turned around, the plane dropped out of the air.

Plane crashes in Nepal midway through 19-minute flight; 23 feared dead – CNN