Emergency workers find bodies of all Nepal plane crash victims

Emergency workers find bodies of Nepal plane crash victims

Kathmandu (AFP) - Emergency workers have found the bodies of all 23 passengers and crew killed when their plane crashed into a mountainside in western Nepal, the army said Thursday.

The police and army returned to the crash site at first light after abandoning recovery efforts late Wednesday due to bad weather in the remote Himalayan district where the Twin Otter turboprop aircraft came down.

The site in Myagdi district is around 16,000 feet (4,900 metres) high in the Himalayas and can only be reached on foot or by helicopter.

"The bodies of all 23 people on board have been found by the team at the crash site," Nepal Army spokesman Tara Bahadur Karki told AFP.

Karki said the bodies will be taken by helicopter to the nearest airport in the town of Pokhara, around 220 kilometres (160 miles) west of Kathmandu.

Strong winds had prevented helicopters from reaching the crash site early Thursday but the airline, Tara Air, said the weather cleared in the afternoon.

"Three helicopters have been deployed to bring the bodies," said airline spokesman Bhim Raj Rai.

The Tara Air flight from Pokhara to Jomsom -- about a 20-minute journey -- was carrying three crew and 20 passengers, including a Chinese national and a Kuwaiti.

The rest were from Nepal and two were children.

The government said it had formed a committee to investigate the cause of the tragedy, the latest in a series of fatal aviation accidents in the impoverished Himalayan nation.

Tara Air is a subsidiary of Yeti Airlines, a privately owned domestic carrier founded in 1998 which services many remote destinations across Nepal.

It suffered its last fatal accident in 2010, when a plane chartered by a group of Bhutanese tourists crashed into a mountainside in eastern Nepal.

The country, which is still reeling from a devastating earthquake last April, has in recent years suffered a number of air disasters.

Most have been attributed to inexperienced pilots, poor management and inadequate maintenance.

The European Union blacklisted all Nepal's airlines in 2013.