The probable location of a plane with 22 people on board - four of them Indians - that went missing in Nepal today was tracked down using the GPS coordinates of the pilot's phone, according to local media reports quoting airport authorities.
The plane was being flown by Captain Prabhakar Ghimire.
"The cell phone of Captain Ghimire of the missing aircraft has been ringing and Nepal Army's helicopter has landed in the possible accident area after tracking the captain's phone from Nepal Telecom," Prem Nath Thakur, general manager of Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport, was quoted as saying by Nepal's MyRepublica news portal.
The plane went missing this morning in a mountainous region soon after taking off from the tourist city of Pokhara for Jomsom, officials said.
The Twin Otter 9N-AET aircraft belonging to Nepal's Tara Air lost contact with the control tower 15 minutes after it took off, an airline spokesperson has said.
The passengers comprise four Indian nationals, two Germans, 13 Nepalese passengers and a three-member Nepalese crew, said airline spokesperson Sudarshan Bartaula. The four Indians have been identified as Ashok Kumar Tripathi, Dhanush Tripathi, Ritika Tripathi, and Vaibhawi Tripathi.
"Tara Air flight 9NAET that took off from Pokhara at 9.55 AM today with 22 people onboard, including 4 Indians, has gone missing. Search and rescue operation is on. The embassy is in touch with their family. Our emergency hotline number :+977-9851107021," the Indian embassy in Nepal tweeted.
The aircraft lost contact with the tower above Ghorepani on the Pokhara-Jomsom air route, aviation sources said.
A Nepal Army helicopter with 10 soldiers and two employees of the civil aviation authority has landed on the bank of a river near Narshang Monastery, the possible site of the crash, Mr Thakur was quoted as saying by MyRepublica. "We have also sent Army and policemen on foot for the search," he added.
Chief District Officer of Myagdi, Chiranjibi Rana, told The Kathmandu Post that bad weather has hampered rescue efforts. "A team of police has been mobilised at the site. There are no human settlements in the area where locals last spotted the plane. As soon as the weather improves, the helicopter will begin aerial operations," said Mr Rana.
A helicopter that flew from Pokhara in search of the missing aircraft earlier in the day returned without any success due to bad weather. Home Minister Bal Krishna Khand has directed authorities to intensify the search operations.