KATHMANDU: All seven on board the Air Dynasty helicopter AS350 carrying Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari have been killed in the crash near Pathibhara in Taplejung district, confirms an Air Dynasty official.
The crash took place in Sisne Khola area, 6 nm (nautical miles) from Taplejung at around 1:30 pm.
Travelling with Minister Adhikari were the pilot of the helicopter Captain Prabhakar KC, tourism entrepreneur Ang Tshiring Sherpa, security personnel Arjun Ghimire, Under-Secretary at the Prime Minister’s office Yubaraj Dahal, Deputy Director General of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Birendra Shrestha, and CAAN Engineer Dhruba Das Bhochhibhaya, informed THT reporter Laxmi Gautam.
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 has been learnt that the tourism minister, along with other officials, had visited Pathibhara Temple after attending a programme at Chuhan Danda in Tehrathum to observe the under-construction airport. The helicopter crashed right after they had taken off again from the temple.
Bodies of the deceased have been retrieved, however, adverse weather condition is hindering the lifting of bodies. Two helicopters of Nepal Army, one of Simrik Air, and one of Air Dynasty have been sent for the operation.
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. Chiefs of security forces are also in a meeting at the National Security Council.