The five Mexican nationals killed in a helicopter crash in eastern Nepal near Mount Everest on Tuesday visited India before touring the Himalayan nation for sightseeing.
The Manang Air helicopter 9N-AMV took off from Surke Airport in Solukhumbu district at 10:04 am for Kathmandu on Tuesday and suddenly lost contact at an altitude above 12,000 feet at 10:13 am.
The helicopter crashed in the Lamjura area of Likhupike Rural Municipality in the remote mountainous Solukhumbu district.
The dead pilot has been identified as Captain CB Gurung, a Nepali national. The five passengers killed in the crash – all of them Mexican nationals – were identified as Fernando Sifuentes (95), Abril Sifuentes Gonzalez (72), Luz Gonzalez Olacio (65), Maria Jose Sifuentes (52) and Ismael Rincon (98).
The family also visited India as one of the victims, Abril Sifuentes Gonzalez, on July 5 posted a photo of herself on a social media platform in front of the Taj Mahal days before the accident.
Mexico’s Ambassador to India Federico Salas said that the victims were family members originally from Nuevo Leon, according to Mexican News Daily.
“It was a family of five people, in effect, who were tourists. They went to Nepal. (…) They were a father and mother and three children. (…) The parents and children were adults, they were not little ones”, Salas was quoted as saying by the Infobae Mexico.
Meanwhile, the bodies have been airlifted to Kathmandu and are kept at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital for post-mortem, Gyanendra Bhul, Information Officer at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), The Himalayan Times newspaper was quoted as saying.
Speaking to the media in Janakpurdham, Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation Minister Sudan Kirati announced that the government would conduct a comprehensive investigation to uncover the factors that led to this unfortunate incident.
“All the passengers who died were from the same Mexican family and had flown to the Khumbu region yesterday for mountain flight as well to observe Sherpa culture,” Director of Manang Air, Mukti Pandey said.
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.
Founded in 1997, Manang Air is a helicopter airline based in Kathmandu. It has been operating helicopters in commercial air transportation within the Nepalese territory under the Regulation of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
The company provides chartered services and is focused on personalised services such as adventure flights, helicopter excursions or expedition work.
Nepal has had a fraught record of aviation accidents, partly due to its sudden weather changes and airstrips located in hard-to-access rocky terrains.
According to the record of CAAN, 35 fatal helicopter crashes have occurred in Nepal.
In 2023 alone, four helicopter crashes were reported in the country.
In early May, a Simrik Air helicopter crashed in Sankhuwasabha district resulting in the tragic death of one passenger, while four others sustained injuries. Likewise, Heli Everest and Air Dynasty helicopters crashed this year, but there was no casualty.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)