Tuesday’s tourist helicopter tragedy in the Everest region in Nepal claimed the lives of all six occupants when it went down shortly after takeoff, according to aviation authorities.
Five Mexican passengers and a Nepali pilot were traveling aboard a Manang Air flight that was bound for the capital Kathmandu from a location close to Lukla, the starting point for climbing expeditions to the highest peak in the world.
About 10 minutes after taking off at 10:04 am (04:19 GMT), the helicopter lost communication.
“Six bodies have been found at the crash site,” Gyanendra Bhul of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal told AFP.
Two helicopters and teams on the ground had been deployed for search and rescue.
“Weather did not allow the helicopters to land close to the area. Teams on foot are heading there to retrieve the bodies,” Bhul said.
At the crash site, local search and rescue personnel could not be reached for comment.
According to his office’s tweet, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “expressed grief” at the occurrence.
Private helicopter travel is a flourishing business in Nepal, taking people and cargo to isolated regions of the Himalayan country where there is little to no road connectivity.
However, the nation is infamous for its poor air safety, and Tuesday’s event is just the most recent in a spate of aviation mishaps there.
In May, a helicopter carrying supplies for a hydroelectricity project crashed in eastern Nepal, killing one person and injuring four others.
The Himalayan country features some of the world’s most difficult and isolated runways, with approaches that are difficult for even seasoned pilots to navigate.
In the mountains, the weather can sometimes change suddenly, making it dangerous to fly.
Inadequate training and maintenance have also been a problem in Nepal’s aviation industry.
All 72 occupants of a plane that crashed in the country’s west in January perished.
As it approached Pokhara, the capital city, the Yeti Airlines airplane crashed into a cliff, broke apart, and caught fire.
Near Kathmandu’s infamously challenging international airport, a US-Bangla Airlines plane crashed in 2018, killing 51 passengers and badly wounding 20 more.
All 167 occupants of a Pakistan International Airlines flight perished in the country’s biggest aviation catastrophe in 1992 when the aircraft crashed as it approached Kathmandu airport.
A Thai Airways plane had crashed nearby the same airport just two months prior, killing 113 people.
Due to safety concerns, the European Union has forbidden all Nepali carriers from using its airspace.