27 Feb, 2019 Explore Vacation
A helicopter carrying six passengers, including Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Rabindra Adhikari, has crashed in Pathibhara, Taplejung on Wednesday afternoon, according to officials at the Ministry of Home Affairs. The crash occurred at Sisne of Fungling Municipality-10, Taplejung airport officials told Biratnagar air traffic control tower. According to Inspector General of Nepal Police Sarbendra Khanal, the Air Dynasty helicopter was carrying Adhikari as well as Ang Tsering Sherpa, a prominent aviation and hospitality entrepreneur, and Yubaraj Dahal, personal aide to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. The team had gone for a feasibility study for an airstrip in Chuhandanda, in neighbouring Tehrathum district, Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai informed the House Committee Wednesday afternoon.
According to Rai, Birendra Prasad Shrestha, Deputy Director General of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), Dhurba Bhochhibhoya, deputy director of CAAN, and Arjun Kumar Ghimire were the two other passengers on board the chopper. The helicopter was being flown by Captain Prabhakar KC. Sherpa, managing director of Yeti Airlines, is the chairman of Air Dynasty. In a phone interview with the Post, Pratap Babu Tiwari, the spokesperson for CAAN, confirmed that all seven on board the helicopter have been killed in the crash.
There is a huge snowfall in the forest area where the helicopter crashed, Umanath Paudel, a health worker at Pathibhara Mandir who witnessed the crash, told the Post. A wallet has been found and documents inside it show it belonged to the pilot, he said. The crash occurred when Adhikari’s team was returning to Kathmandu after offering worship at Pathibhara temple. A local eyewitness told Kantipur daily that the helicopter crashed a minute after it took off from Pathibhara temple.
Chandra Bahadur Karki, another local eyewitness, told the Post that the chopper hit a cliff and burst into flames. The charred bodies of six people have been found together and the seventh body was recovered from near the crash site. All bodies have been burnt beyond recognition, Karki said. Moments after the chopper was reported missing, local residents in Pathibara area informed the police about a huge flame at the crash site.
“Our people are about to reach the site of the crash and we will know more then,” said IGP Khanal. A team of Nepal Army and Nepal Police personnel has been deployed to the site. Tribhuvan International Airport officials in Kathmandu told the Post a helicopter headed towards the crash site was forced to return due to bad weather condition.