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‘No One Is Alive’: At Least 21 Bodies Are Recovered in Nepal Plane Crash

Mr. Pokharel was the first person from his remote village in the Rukum District to become a pilot, family members said, after he learned to fly in the Philippines.

The family was so proud of him that they also enrolled Mr. Pokharel’s younger brother, Umesh, in a pilot training program in the Philippines. “He has just three months left to complete his course,” said Mr. Pokharel, their father. “I am confused whether to ask him to be a pilot or ask him to leave.”

Nepali officials on Monday said that the cause of the crash was not immediately clear. The most likely possibility, they said, was that the plane crashed into a mountain after it lost contact with air traffic controllers while navigating in particularly bad weather.

“Initially, the weather was good,” said Puskal Sharma, the chief of the Jomsom airport, but it quickly “worsened just when we were asking the Tara Air plane for the final position. Then, we lost the connection immediately.”

Mr. Sharma said that two small planes had successfully landed at the Jomsom airport early Sunday morning. Jomsom is a favorite of trekkers because of its breathtaking snow-capped mountains. Hindu pilgrims from India, Nepal and other countries also visit the area to pray at the Muktinath Temple. For many, a trip there is thought to offer a pathway to heaven. Among the most famous visitors was Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, who toured the temple in 2018.

To reach remote mountainous places like Jomsom, residents and visitors rely on small twin-engine planes. The route from Pokhara to Jomsom is considered one of the riskiest in Nepal because planes have to fly through narrow valleys, where visibility is often a challenge. Crashes are more common than usual because of frequent bad weather, rocky terrain and aging plane fleets.

In 2016, 23 people were killed when a Tara Air plane went down while on the same route as the one on Sunday. In 2018, a passenger plane from Bangladesh crashed in Kathmandu, killing 49 of the 71 people on board. In response to the poor safety record of Nepali airlines, the European Union has barred the planes from its airspace.

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