KATHMANDU, Nepal — A search was underway in Nepal on Sunday for a small plane with 22 people aboard that went missing during a flight to a Himalayan tourist destination, officials said.
The Tara Air plane, a Canadian-made de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter, which was carrying 19 passengers and three crew members, took off from the central city of Pokhara on Sunday morning, headed for Jomsom, a village high in the Himalayas. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane during the flight, which normally takes about 30 minutes.
Netra Prasad Sharma, the top official in the Mustang district, which includes Jomsom, said the area was dense with fog on Sunday. “Weather is not good,” he said.
Jomsom is a popular tourist destination with trekkers because of its starkly beautiful snow-capped mountains. Hindu pilgrims from India, Nepal and other countries also visit to pray at the Muktinath Temple.
Thirteen of the passengers on the plane were Nepalis, four were Hindu pilgrims from India and two were German trekkers, said Sudarshan Bartaula, a Tara Air spokesman.
Helicopters deployed for the search had to be grounded because of bad weather. Local residents were also searching for the plane, Mr. Bartaula said.
People in Nepal rely on small, twin-engine planes to reach far-flung parts of the mountainous country, and crashes are common. In 2016, a Tara Air plane crashed while flying the same route as the one that disappeared on Sunday. None of the 23 passengers and crew members on that flight survived.
Bad weather, difficult terrain and aging planes are often blamed for crashes in Nepal. The European Union has banned Nepalese airlines from its airspace since 2012, citing the frequency of crashes. In March, the E.U. denied Nepal’s latest request for the ban to be lifted.