South Korea's Foreign Ministry said Sunday it has confirmed that two Korean passengers were on board an aircraft that had crashed near an airport in central Nepal.
"We have confirmed that two Korean nationals were on the list of passengers in a passenger aircraft that crashed in Nepal," said a Foreign Ministry official. "We are working to check whether the passengers were on board and the damage caused by the crash."
The ministry added it has dispatched an official of the Korean Embassy to Nepal to the site where the plane crashed, as it was scrambling to figure out the details. The Foreign Ministry also set up a special team in Seoul designed to protect Koreans living overseas.
Prime Minister Han Duck-soo ordered the Foreign Ministry to use all available resources to swiftly respond to potential damages on the Korean nationals by cooperating with the Nepalese authorities, the Prime Minister's office said in a statement.
Han, on behalf of President Yoon Suk Yeol during his visit to United Arab Emirates, also ordered the government to reach out to families of those presumed to be onboard on the crashed airplane, and provide consular service needed to them.
The plane operated by Yeti Airlines carried 72 people. Neither the identities of the victims, nor the cause of the accident have yet to be known.
As of Sunday evening, 15 foreigners were reported to be on the list of passengers, including five Indians, four Russians, one Irish and two South Korean nationals, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
Nearly all of the 68 passengers and four crew members are feared dead as of 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Seoul time. But Gurudatta Dhakal, assistant chief official of Kaski district, was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse that the rescue team "has also sent some survivors to the hospital for treatment."
The domestic flight took off from the capital city of Kathmandu to Pokhara, a resort town in central Nepal. The aircraft crashed at around 10:30 a.m. local time near a landing site of Pokhara International Airport.
Pokhara is located about 200 kilometers west of Kathmandu.
A search and rescue operation is underway for victims of the crash, believed to Nepal's deadliest since March 2018. The plane was reportedly 15 years old.
The mountainous country has reportedly been notorious for tricky runways on its airports, lack of infrastructure for accurate weather forecasts, as well as insufficient training and maintenance of aircraft staff and equipment.