5 Mexicans, Nepali pilot killed in helicopter crash near Mt Everest in Nepal

Kathmandu: All six people, including five members of a Mexican family, were killed in a fiery crash of a private commercial helicopter near Mount Everest in eastern Nepal on Tuesday, a senior airport official said.

The Manang Air NA-MV chopper took off from Surke Airport in Solukhumbu district at 10:04 am for Kathmandu and suddenly lost contact at an altitude above 12,000 feet at 10:13 am, said Gyanendra Bhul, Manager at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).

The helicopter crashed in the Lamjura area of Likhupike Rural Municipality in the remote mountainous Solukhumbu district.

TIA spokesperson Tkeknath Sitaula said all six bodies were found at the crash site during a search operation.

They were returning to Kathmandu from Surke after enjoying a mountain flight. The flight was conducted from Lukla, the gateway to Mount Everest, Sitaula said.

All six people aboard the chopper have died in the accident, The Kathmandu Post newspaper quoted operation and safety manager of Manang Air Raju Neupane as saying.

Six people including Captain Chet Bahadur Gurung and five Mexican nationals were aboard the aircraft, the official said.

Police have established the identities of the deceased, District police chief Dipak Shrestha said, adding the accident is believed to have been caused due to bad weather.

All five foreign passengers are members of a Mexican family. They have been identified as Sifuentes G. Fernando (95) and Sifuentes Rincon Ismail (98), both males, along with three females – Sifuentes Gongalez Abril (72), Gongalez Olacio Luz (65) and Sifuentes G. Maria Jese (52), MyRepublica news portal reported.

Earlier, a senior official at TIA said locals informed him that the helicopter crashed with a loud explosion and they saw fire at the crash site.

“The locals discovered the crashed helicopter at Chihandanda,” said rural municipality deputy chair Nwang Lhakpa.

The last location of the chopper was tracked at 10:12 am in the Lamjura Pass area, said Neupane. Local police were mobilised in the area.

Nepal’s tourist and mountaineering season ended in May. The flights carrying tourists to the mountains are less common this time of year as visibility is poor and weather conditions fickle.