2019 Taplejung helicopter crash
|Date||February 27, 2019|
|Aircraft type||Eurocopter AS350 B3e|
|Last stopover||Pathibhara Devi Temple|
On February 27, 2019, Air Dynasty's Eurocopter AS350 B3e carrying six passengers and one pilot was scheduled to travel from Pathibhara Devi Temple in Taplejung to Chuhandanda in Tehrathum. A crash happened at approximately 1.30 p.m. (NPT) due to bad weather in Taplejung. The crash led to the death of the seven people on board, including that of Nepalese Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Rabindra Prasad Adhikari and Managing Director of Yeti and Tara Airlines Ang Tshiring Sherpa.
Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal Rabindra Prasad Adhikari came to Taplejung to inspect the under-construction airport at Chuhandanda. Ang Tshering Sherpa, managing director of Yeti Airlines, also went with Adhikari to inspect the airport. After inspecting the airport fellow passengers and crew went to see the most significant temple in Nepal, Pathibhara Devi Temple. After visiting the temple Adhikari and other passengers were returning to Chuhandanda in Tehrathum.
The helicopter crash occurred due to critical weather in Taplejung, Nepal. The crash killed all seven people on board, including Nepalese Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Rabindra Prasad Adhikari. The pilot of the helicopter reported heavy snowfall in the area of the airport and stated that he was unable to remain airborne, according to The Kathmandu Post. After the incident Air Dynasty was informed at 1:30 p.m. Nepal Standard Time (NPT).
The helicopter crashed at Sisne Khola, Pathibhara, Taplejung, Nepal. Nepalese police reported that Rabindra Adhikari and another passenger were in an identifiable state. Moments after the helicopter went missing, Taplejung residents reported to the police that they had heard a loud bang and seen smoke and fire in the area. Suraj Bhattarai, a witness also reported to the police "The helicopter is in pieces, and scattered all over". The helicopter caught fire after hitting Chuchche Dada and falling down to Sisne Khola.
Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (Nepal) declared February 28, 2019, to be national mourning day in Nepal to pay respect to those who died in the helicopter crash. Ram Bahadur Thapa said "All educational institutes, government offices, diplomatic missions will remain closed with a national flag lowered half-mast to mourn the death." Thapa also said that "The national flag will be hoisted at half-staff to mourn the departed souls."
The bodies of four people were brought to Suketar on Wednesday afternoon. Chief District Officer (CDO) Anuj Bhandari said "There has been heavy snowfall. We could not take out all the bodies. We will try again tomorrow", he also added that recovering bodies in the crash site is difficult due to helicopter crash site being at the slope of a hill.
Nepal's prime minister Khadga Prasad Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal told the media "The country has lost a dependable youth leader with abundant possibilities in the demise of Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari".
Yeti Airlines, and Tara Air cancelled all flights on March 1, 2019 to pay tributes to Ang Tshering Sherpa, they released a statement saying "We, the Yeti Airlines and Tara Air family, are shocked and crestfallen by the untimely demise of one of Nepal’s pioneer aviation entrepreneur and Managing Director Aang Tshiring Sherpa" and "In his memory and to pay our tributes we are issuing this circular to all the passengers that our flights scheduled for March 1, 2019, have been cancelled."
The bodies of the passengers and the pilot were brought to Kathmandu on February 28 at 12:10 p.m. Nepal Communist Party (NCP) said all of the bodies would be cremated with state honours at Ramghat in Nepal. Before the funeral Adhikari's body would be kept at Exhibition Centre at local Nayabazar to pay respect toward him and his body would be cremated at Pokhara, Nepal.
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