Nepal’s Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari and owner of the country’s biggest private airlines, Ang Chhiring Sherpa, were among seven people who died after a helicopter crashed in a mountainous region in eastern Nepal.
The Air Dynasty helicopter that Sherpa partly owned hit a hill as it was struggling to find its way back to Kathmandu in cloudy weather. Besides Adhikari (49) and Sherpa, Yuvraj Dahal, an aide to Prime Minister K P Oli, senior Civil Aviation Authority officials Birendra Shrestha and Dhruba Bhochhibhoya, the pilot Pravakar K C, and a member of Adhikari’s security staff Arjun Ghimire also died in the crash.
The group had left Kathmandu in the morning to visit the site of a proposed domestic airport in eastern Nepal’s Terathum district, and from there they proceeded to the famous Pathivara shrine in the adjoining Taplejung district at an altitude of nearly 3,900 metres. They then boarded the helicopter, but about ten minutes later, it collided with a nearby hill, leaving no survivors.
Locals residents located the wreckage of the helicopter soon after the crash, but other rescue helicopters, belonging to the Nepal Army and other commercial agencies, could not land in the area due to bad weather.
Adhikari, a third-term parliamentarian, began his political career as a student leader in Pokhara and then Kathmandu. He was personally supervising the construction of the China-aided international airport in Pokhara, and two more in Bhairahawa, near Lumbini and Jeetpur, promising that they would be built within the designated time frame.
Ang Chhiring Sherpa owned Yeti Airlines and Tara Air, which have a fleet of 16 aircraft operating across the country. He also owns Himalayan Airlines in partnership with Tibet Air, and the carrier had began its operation in Myanmar, the Gulf countries and China last year.
The Prime Minister summoned an emergency meeting of the Cabinet to share the tragic news with fellow ministers.