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Passenger plane carrying 18 missing in Nepal

A Nepal Airlines plane carrying 15 passengers and three crew went missing on Sunday afternoon shortly after take-off from a popular tourist resort, police and an airline spokesman said.

KATHMANDU - A Nepal Airlines plane carrying 15 passengers and three crew went missing on Sunday afternoon shortly after take-off from a popular tourist resort, police and an airline spokesman said.

"The Nepal Airlines plane with 14 passengers took off from Pokhara airport at 1.30pm and disappeared 15 minutes later," Nepal police spokesman Ganesh KC told AFP.

A total of 18 people were on board, the 14 adult passengers, plus one infant and three crew, an airline spokesman said.

"One of the passengers is from Denmark," spokesman Ram Hari Sharma told AFP. The rest of those on board are from Nepal.

The airline has alerted police to "find the plane's location" and are "preparing for rescue operations," Sharma said.

The state-run carrier was travelling from Pokhara to the town of Jumla, 353 kilometres (220 miles) west of the capital Kathmandu, when air traffic controllers lost contact with the pilot.

The incident highlights safety concerns about the Himalayan nation's aircraft.

Nepal, which counts tourism as a major contributor to its economy, has suffered a number of air crashes in recent years, which have usually been attributed to inexperienced pilots, poor management and maintenance.

A Chinese tourist and a local pilot were killed when an ultra-light aircraft crashed into a hill in the tourist town of Pokhara last October.

The European Union in December blacklisted all the country's airlines, citing their poor safety record, and banned them from flying to the EU.

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