Nepalese police have found the wreckage of a missing Nepal Airlines plane that was carrying 18 people in the country's western region. Officials said that no survivors had been found.
Officials said that the wreckage had been located during an aerial search along the plane's flight route, some 226 kilometers (140 miles) west of the capital, Kathmandu.
"The plane crashed into a hill, police have found its wreckage in a village, but no survivors," Bimlesh Lal Karna, chief air traffic controller at Kathmandu airport, told the AFP news agency.
"Most of the plane is completely broken into small pieces, no one could have survived the accident," he added.
The Canadian-made De Havilland Twin Otter plane had been on its way from Kathmandu to the town of Jumla, some 400 kilometers to the west. A stop had also been made in the resort town of Pokhara.
Air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft 33 minutes after takeoff, the pilot being reported to have said that visibility was poor.
Heavy rain, snow and fog held back the search for survivors on Sunday, with helicopters forced to abandon their efforts and turn back to base.
Pieces of wreckage were found near the village of Masinalekh in the Arghakhanchi district, where local residents had alerted authorities. Soldiers were said to be on their way to the site.
Among the 15 passengers and three crew members were one Danish national and a local politician, Manab Sejuwal, from the ruling Nepali Congress party. An infant was also believed to have been on board.
The crash further raises concern about Nepali air safety, which has been strongly criticized by international authorities. In 60 years of aviation history, the country has suffered more than 70 crashes with more than 700 fatalities.
In December, the EU banned all Nepalese airlines from flying to destinations within the bloc.
Air crashes in recent years have been attributed to pilot inexperience, inadequate maintenance and poor management.
rc/dr (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)