A tragic helicopter crash near Mount Everest in eastern Nepal’s Solukhumbu District has claimed the lives of six people. The aircraft, operated by Manang Air, carried five Mexican tourists and a Nepalese pilot. The helicopter had been returning to Kathmandu after a sightseeing trip to Mount Everest when it crashed at around 10 am local time.
The bodies of all six victims have been recovered, although the crash’s impact caused severe damage. The cause of the crash is currently unknown, and the government will establish a committee to investigate the incident.
- Related: U.S. Marine, Amputee, and Mountaineer Kirstie Ennis Turns Around 200 Meters From Everest Summit
Manang Air is one of several operators regularly transporting tourists to Nepal’s Himalayas to glimpse the country’s majestic peaks. Weather conditions had necessitated changes to the helicopter’s planned flight route. Approximately ten minutes after takeoff, the aircraft disappeared from radar and lost contact with air traffic control.
The helicopter pilot was identified as Captain Chet Bahadur Gurung, an experienced flyer with Manang Air for the past decade. Nepal has a concerning aviation safety record, and this incident occurred nearly six months after a plane crash near the tourist town of Pokhara, which resulted in the loss of all 72 lives on board. The challenging flying conditions in Nepal, characterized by snow-capped peaks and remote runways, pose difficulties for even the most skilled pilots. Weather conditions in the mountainous region can change rapidly, adding to aviation challenges.
During the monsoon season, flights are often delayed or rerouted due to heavy rains. As the tourist and mountaineering season concludes in May, flights to the mountains are less common this time of year due to poor visibility and unpredictable weather conditions.