Search and rescue teams in Nepal have recovered the bodies of 16 people on board a Tara Air flight that crashed with 22 people on board, authorities said Monday.
Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority said on Twitter the bodies have been collected and are yet to be identified.
Prem Nath Thakur, the general manager of Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport, told CNN earlier on Monday that poor weather conditions were still a concern but efforts to locate the remaining passengers would continue as long as possible.
“Search and rescue teams are at the site going through the wreckage,” Thakur said. “After all the passengers have been found, their bodies will be sent to Kathmandu.”
Search operations carried out by the Nepali Army and Nepal Police resumed Monday morning after being paused late Sunday due to a lack of light and inclement weather, which prevented helicopters from flying into the area of the flight’s last known location.
The site where the wreckage was found is at an altitude of about 14,500 feet, an airport spokesperson said. Investigators are also searching a gorge between two mountains, the spokesperson added.
The plane had been flying from the city of Pokhara to popular tourist town Jomsom in central Nepal on Sunday, when it lost contact with air control about 12 minutes into the journey, Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority said. Flights between the two cities are usually 20-25 minutes long.
Authorities believe the incident was caused by poor weather, according to Binod B.K., an official at the Nepal’s home ministry.
There were 19 passengers and three crew members on board. Two German nationals, four Indians and 13 Nepali citizens are among the 22 people on the flight, the ministry said. The nationalities of two passengers are unknown.
The plane lost contact with the control tower five minutes before it was due to land at Jomsom, an airline official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Tara Air mainly flies Canadian-built Twin Otter turboprop planes. Flight-tracking website Flightradar24 said the missing aircraft made its first flight in April 1979.
Pokhara is 129 kilometers (80 miles) west of Kathmandu, the Nepali capital.
Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest, has a record of air accidents. Its weather can change suddenly and airstrips are typically sited in difficult-to-reach mountainous areas.
In 2016, a Tara Air flight crashed while flying the same route as the aircraft that was lost Sunday. That incident involved a recently acquired Twin Otter aircraft flying in clear conditions.
And, in early 2018, a US-Bangla Airlines flight from Dhaka to Kathmandu crashed on landing and caught fire, killing 51 of the 71 people on board.