3 die as jet hits parked helicopter at takeoff near Mount Everest
The airport is used by thousands of trekkers and climbers heading for the Everest region each year [Ang Tashi Sherpa/Handout via Reuters]
A small passenger plane has crashed into a parked helicopter during takeoff at the only airport in Nepal’s Everest region, killing at least three people and injuring four others, officials said.
The crash occurred on Sunday morning as the jet was trying to take off from Lukla for the capital, Kathmandu, according to aviation official Raj Kumar Chhetri.
He said the plane, a Twin Otter belonging to Summit Air, skidded off the runway, hitting the helicopter of Manang Air.
Both are private airline companies that cater to tourists and Nepalese in the country’s remote areas.
The injured were airlifted to Kathmandu by helicopter, Nepal police spokesman Uttam Raj Subedi said. The dead included a pilot of the plane and two police officers who were near the parked helicopter.
A civil administrator, Narendra Kumar Rana, said the four passengers and a flight attendant on the plane were safe.
Following the crash, authorities suspended services at Tenzing Hillary Airport at Lukla, the gateway to Mount Everest.
The airport is often referred to as the world’s most dangerous because of the short runway and difficult approach. It is open only to helicopters and small fixed-wing aircraft.
Sitting at an elevation of 2,845 metres, it is used by thousands of trekkers and climbers heading for the Everest region each year. It is particularly busy in April as the spring mountain climbing season begins.
In May 2017, a cargo flight was landing in Lukla when it lost altitude and crashed into a mountain below the runway, killing both pilots. Poor visibility was blamed for the accident.
Air crashes are common in mostly mountainous Nepal, home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountain peaks, including Mount Everest.
In February, a helicopter flying in bad weather crashed into a mountain in northeastern Nepal, killing all seven people on board, including the country’s tourism minister.