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Nepal: 6 die after helicopter crashes near Mount Everest

July 11, 2023

All five passengers and the pilot have died after a helicopter carrying foreign tourists from a sightseeing trip crashed shortly after take-off.

A bird flies with Mount Everest seen in the background from Namche Bajar, Solukhumbu district, from which the plane had taken off
The helicopter was flying out of the Mount Everest area in NepalImage: Niranjan Shrestha/AP Photo/picture alliance

A helicopter has crashed near Mount Everest in Nepal, killing all six people on board, aviation authorities confirmed Tuesday.

Reports said earlier that contact with the Manang Air helicopter, which took off from Surki in the Solukhumbu district bound for the capital Kathmandu, was lost 15 minutes after its departure on Tuesday morning.

The helicopter was carrying five Mexican tourists and a Nepali pilot, government officials told news agencies.

Locals reported that the chopper was found crashed at Chihandanda in Lamjura of Bhakanje village, the Kathmandu Post cited a rural municipal official as saying.

What officials said about the crash

The authorities said that all the six bodies have been retrieved.

"The bodies have broken into pieces," said Sita Adhikari, a regional official in the Solukhumbu district. "More police have been sent to the location. Only then will we know the details," she added.

The cause of the crash was not yet known, Nepal’s civil aviation regulator said, adding that the government would set up a committee to investigate.

"The helicopter took off... in good weather. The weather was not bad. Now we can't say what caused the crash. It will have to be investigated," Raju Neupane, a spokesperson for Manang Air said. 

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had "expressed grief" over the incident, his office said on Twitter.

History of helicopter crashes in Nepal

Nepal is notorious for its poor aviation safety

Many airlines in the Himalayan country fly to small airports in remote hills that are often covered in clouds. 

The weather can also change quickly in the mountains, creating treacherous flying conditions.

In January, Nepal saw its worst air crash in three decades when a plane crashed near Pokhara, reporetedly leaving all 72 people aboard dead.

The European Union has banned all Nepali carriers from its airspace over safety concerns.

Crashed: Nepal’s treacherous airspace

dvv/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)