Officials Search Through Rubble For Bodies After Plane Carrying 22 People Crashes Into Mountains

Photo by BISHAL MAGAR/AFP via Getty Images

Mary Rooke Commentary and Analysis Writer
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An aircraft carrying 22 people crashed into the Himalayan mountainside in Nepal just 15 minutes after taking off Sunday.

Nepal authorities announced Monday that Nepali soldiers and rescue workers found all but one of the 22 victims of the plane crash, reported Reuters.

The De Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter plane, operated by Tara Air, was carrying two Germans, four Indians, and 16 Nepalis, on a typical tourist flight from Pokhara to Jomsom, according to Reuters. The pilgrimage is about 50 miles and usually takes around 20 minutes to complete.

Authorities haven’t determined the official cause of the plane crash. Pilots in Nepal often fly in hazardous conditions due to its high mountain ranges, including Mount Everest, and its unpredictable weather. (RELATED: Climbers Have Tea On Mount Everest, Setting A World Record)

Mustang district head Netra Prasad Sharma said the weather conditions in the area where the crash occurred continue to bring low visibility. “There is very thick cloud in the area,” Sharma told Reuters. Authorities didn’t find the aircraft until Monday due to weather conditions.

“There is very little chance to find survivors,” Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal spokesman Deo Chandra Lal Karna said, reported Reuters.

The rescue crew took the victims’ bodies to Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, for family members to identify and claim, the outlet reported.

The aircraft’s co-pilot, Utsav Pokhrel, was just 25-year-old. His emotional father, Maniram Pokhrel, was among the family members gathering to receive information and the body recovery effort.

“I am waiting for my son’s body,” Pokhrel told Reuters.

The Nepali government instructed a five-member panel to investigate the reason for the crash and create policies intended to prevent future incidents.

The U.S. Embassy in Nepal released a statement of support for the victims’ families.

“We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s Tara Air plane crash near Jomsom. Our hearts go out to the families, friends, and loved ones of the passengers and crew members who perished,” The U.S. Embassy in Nepal tweeted.

U.S. Ambassador Randy Berry also tweeted a statement remembering the 22 victims.

“Since yesterday, I have been holding out hope, with the rest of the people of Nepal, that there were survivors of this tragic crash,” tweeted Berry. “My deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the 22 individuals who lost their lives.”