The search and rescue operation was halted for four people still unaccounted for after a local passenger plane crashed on Sunday in central Nepal, officials said.
The operation involving soldiers and police officers was called off as night fell, said Brig. Gen. Krishna Prasad Bhandari, Nepal Army's spokesperson. On Sunday 68 dead bodies were recovered from the crash site in the Seti River gorge in Kaski district.
"The search for the remaining four people will commence tomorrow morning," Bhandari told Xinhua, noting security forces will secure the crash site the whole night.
A Yeti Airlines plane carrying 68 passengers and four crew members crashed when it was flying from Kathmandu to Pokhara.
Jagannath Niroula, spokesperson of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), refused to speculate about the fate of the four people still missing. "We cannot announce them dead without finding the people," he told Xinhua.
According to a CAAN statement, there were 15 foreigners aboard the ill-fated flight, including five Indians, four Russians, two South Koreans and one each from Australia, Ireland, Argentina and France.
Prem Nath Thakur, general manager of the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, said the plane had been granted landing clearance before it crashed in the Seti River gorge.
The weather seemed not a factor in the accident, as it was "very good" in Pokhara from early morning, Thakur told a press conference, noting the pilots did not report technical problems either.
Among the passengers aboard the flight, there were three children and three infants, Thakur added.
The Nepali cabinet has declared a national mourning on Monday for the victims and decided to form a five-member committee to probe the cause of the accident, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Abdul Khan told Xinhua.
Air accidents are not rare in Nepal as air travel is an option when overland routes are generally not in good shape in the mountainous country. In May 2022, a Twin Otter plane operated by Tara Air crashed in Mustang district, killing all 22 people aboard.