A nation in pray

The missing 24-seater Shree Airlines helicopter that took off from Ghunsa, Kanchanjungha region, Saturday noon for Taplejung, with 20 passengers and four crew members on board, has caused universal anxiety in Nepal. Firstly, the number of passengers is quite high from the standpoint of loss, not from that of capacity. Secondly, the passengers comprised a distinguished group of both Nepali as well as foreign officials, top conservationists, bureaucrats, scholars, diplomats — including minister of state for forest and soil conservation Gopal Rai and his wife, former minister Dr Harka Gurung, the Finnish embassy’s charge d’affaires Pauli Mustonen and the USAID’s Margaret Alexander.

Though the search is underway, it had been hindered as of this writing yesterday by bad weather, remoteness of the region, dense forest, and the lack of human habitation. Moreover, Ghunsa’s location at an elevation of 3,475 metres has impeded the search operations. Though the locals are reported to have heard a loud bang five minutes after the

helicopter took off, the rescuers are optimistic and awaiting with bated breath for the incessant rain and dense fog to subside. If the past is any guide, the missing period of more than 24 hours for a helicopter naturally leads anybody to fear the worst. However, hope is the greatest sustainer of mankind. We at THT join the nation in pray for the safety of all the passengers wherever they may be now, along with the hope that the search mission may end on a positive note — and very soon.