Tourists die in helicopter crash in Nepal


All six people on board a tourist helicopter in Nepal were killed when it crashed in the Everest region on Tuesday, shortly after taking off.

The Manang Air flight was heading to the capital Kathmandu from Lukla, from where numerous expeditions to the world’s highest mountain peak start.

Five tourists from Mexico and a pilot from Nepal were on board.

The helicopter lost contact eight minutes after it took off on Tuesday morning, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal said in a statement.

“The six bodies have been found and brought to Kathmandu,” Pratap Babu Tiwari, general manager at Tribhuvan International Airport, told AFP.

Lhakpa Sherpa, a local resident who participated in the search and rescue effort, said the scene was “frightening”. “It looked like the helicopter first hit a tree and then crashed into the ground. It caused a hole in the ground.”

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal regrets the incident, his office said on Twitter.

Nepal has a thriving private helicopter industry. Tourists and goods are transported to remote areas of the country where there are few or no roads.

However, the country is notorious for its poor aviation and Tuesday’s incident is the latest in a series of plane crashes.

One person was killed and four injured in May when a helicopter crashed in eastern Nepal after delivering goods for a hydroelectric project.

More than 12 people died in helicopter crashes during rescue operations after the devastating earthquake in 2015.

Plane crashes are also a common occurrence in the Himalayas, home to remote and difficult runways – surrounded by snow-capped peaks that pose a challenge even to experienced pilots.

The weather can also change quickly in the mountains and cause dangerous flying conditions. However, Nepal’s safety record is worsened by inadequate training and maintenance.

All 72 people on board a flight bound for Pokhara died in January when the plane tumbled down a ravine, broke into pieces and caught fire.

In 2018, a US-Bangla Airlines plane made a belly landing near Kathmandu’s international airport – notorious for its level of difficulty. A total of 51 people died and 20 were seriously injured.

All 167 people on board a Pakistan International Airlines plane died in 1992 during an accident on landing at Kathmandu airport. It was Nepal’s deadliest plane crash to date.

The European Union has banned all Nepalese airlines from its airspace over security concerns.