Nepalese troops Monday recovered 18 bodies from the snow-blanketed wreckage of a plane that crashed into a hillside, the latest disaster to hit the country’s internationally-blacklisted airlines.
Body parts and debris from the Nepal Airlines plane, which was carrying 15 passengers and three crew, were found scattered in a village next to the scene of Sunday’s crash in the mountainous west of the country, a police official at the scene said.
Officials dug through snow that had blanketed passengers’ bodies overnight in Arghakhanchi district, 226 kilometres (140 miles) west of the capital, local police official Kiran Khatri told AFP.
“It was horrible, we found burned body parts. Only eight people had undamaged faces,” Khatri said in a phone interview.
The Twin Otter propeller plane, carrying locals and one passenger from Denmark, lost contact with air traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the popular tourist town of Pokhara on Sunday afternoon.
The aircraft from the state-run carrier encountered heavy rain en route from Pokhara to the town of Jumla, 353 kilometres west of Kathmandu.
The torrential downpour eventually forced two helicopters to stop their hunt for the plane Sunday.
Police resumed their search at first light on Monday, finally spotting scattered pieces of the wreckage during an aerial search of Arghakhanchi.
Soldiers have since recovered the bodies of all those on board, an army statement said.
“The bodies will be brought to Pokhara and Kathmandu for post mortem and handed over to respective families,” it said.
The crash, which left the aircraft shattered into small parts, is the latest to raise alarm over Nepal’s aviation industry.It comes only weeks after all the country’s airlines were banned from flying to the European Union.
An airline spokesman said engineers had refurbished the plane in recent weeks, leaving it in “good condition”.
“The preliminary report shows that the cause of the crash was the bad weather,” Ram Hari Sharma, Nepal Airlines spokesman, told AFP.