Nepal’s minister, 6 others die in chopper crash

Nepal’s minister, 6 others die in chopper crash
The site of the crash, hours after Air Dynasty chopper smashed into a cliff. (Bibek Khadka)
Kathmandu, Feb 27 (PTI): | Publish Date: 2/28/2019 12:00:00 AM IST

Nepal’s Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Rabindra Adhikari and six others were killed Wednesday when a private helicopter crashed in eastern Nepal’s mountainous Taplejung district, the latest aviation accident in the Himalayan nation.

Besides the 39-year-old tourism minister, the Air Dynasty helicopter was carrying Nepal’s prominent aviation and hospitality entrepreneur Ang Tsering Sherpa, Prime Minister’s personal aide Yubaraj Dahal, two senior Civil Aviation Authority (CAAN) officials and a Nepal Army personnel.

Rescue workers retrieved the bodies of Adhikari, the pilot and five other passengers from a hillside in Taplejung district where the Air Dynasty chopper went down.

Tourism Ministry spokesperson confirmed that all seven on board the helicopter have been killed in the crash. 

The helicopter crashed as it hit a hill while Tourism Minister Adhikari was returning to Kathmandu after visiting famous Hindu temple Pathibhara in Eastern Nepal. 

Earlier, the minister accompanied by the technical team from the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Sherpa, managing director of Yeti Airlines, had gone for a feasibility study for an airstrip in Chuhandanda, in Tehrathum district.

The helicopter crashed right after it had taken off from the temple, officials said, adding the cause of the crash is being probed.

The helicopter burst into flames after it hit Chuchche Dada hill in Taplejung district in the mountain region. There was a huge snowfall in the forest area where the helicopter crashed.

Moments after the helicopter was reported missing, local residents in Pathibara area informed the police about a huge flame at the crash site.

The Chief District Officer of Taplejung, Anuj Bhandari quoted the locals as saying they heard a loud bang followed by a sight of smoke and fire in the area.

It is the latest aviation accident in Nepal, which has a poor air safety record. 

In September last year, six people including a Japanese tourist was killed when a helicopter crashed.

Nepal has some of the world’s most remote and tricky runways, flanked by snow-capped peaks with approaches that pose a challenge for even accomplished pilots.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Minister has summoned an emergency cabinet meeting at the official residence of the Prime Minister in Baluwatar.

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