A helicopter carrying six individuals, including five Mexican nationals, crashed on Tuesday, 11 July, with no survivors, a spokesperson for Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport said.
The tragic accident took place as the helicopter, operated by Manang Air, departed from Surki in Solukhumbu district en route to Nepal's capital city of Kathmandu. The helicopter lost contact in less than 10 minutes after takeoff and crashed at Lamjura in Solukhumbu district, as reported by The Kathmandu Post.
Locals discovered the wreckage at Chihandanda in Lamjura and immediately alerted authorities. The district police chief, Dipak Shrestha, suggested that adverse weather conditions likely played a role in the accident. However, Raju Neupane, a spokesperson for Manang Air, emphasised that the helicopter departed in good weather, and the exact cause of the crash can only be determined through a thorough investigation.
The helicopter carried Captain Chet Bahadur Gurung and five Mexican nationals, all losing their lives in the crash. Police have identified the deceased individuals, and their remains will be transported to Kathmandu after the necessary documentation is completed, as stated by Shrestha.
With the call sign 9N-AMV, the helicopter departed from Surki in Solukhumbu district. Tragically, contact with the helicopter was lost around 10:12 am in the Lamjura Pass area, leaving rescuers and authorities scrambling to locate the wreckage and assess the situation.
Speaking about the crash, the Tribhuvan International Airport spokesperson, Teknath Sitaula, informed the local news website My Republica that contact with the control tower was lost when the helicopter reached the Lamjura pass. Sitaula noted that only a brief "hello" message was received via Viber before the communication was cut-off.
The crash site, located at Lamajura Danda in the border region of Likhu PK village council and Dudhkunda Municipality-2, was where villagers discovered the wreckage. Preliminary investigations indicate that the helicopter may have struck a tree on the hilltop, leading to the outcome.
Manang Air, the private company operating the helicopter, is based in Kathmandu and has provided helicopter services since 1997. The airline focuses on commercial air transportation within Nepal and offers personalised services such as adventure flights, helicopter excursions, and expedition work.
In January, a plane flying above the tourist destination of Pokhara crashed, killing 71 people and leaving one unaccounted for.
Since many airlines fly to small airports in outlying hills and close to peaks cloaked in clouds and cut off from highways, the rough mountainous nation has a history of aviation mishaps.
As rescue operations and investigations continue at the crash site, the aviation authorities and local law enforcement are working together to ascertain the exact cause of the accident. The loss of lives in this crash has sent shockwaves through the community, highlighting the risks involved in aviation and the need for stringent safety measures to protect passengers and crew.