Nepal Tourism Minister Adhikari among 7 dead in helicopter crash

Rabindra Adhikari killed in crash in eastern hilly region after returning from pilgrimage site, officials say.

    Nepalese Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari and six other people have been confirmed dead in a helicopter crash in the east of the country, according to a home ministry spokesman.

    Adhikari was among seven people on board the private helicopter, travelling from the eastern district of Taplejung to Terathum, when it went down in a forest on Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

    "The dead bodies of Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari and six others have been identified at the crash site," said Ram Krishna Subedi, spokesman for the home ministry. 

    Uttam Raj Subedi, a police spokesman, had earlier confirmed that five bodies had been found at the site of the crash.

    "The helicopter was returning after a trip to Pathivara [a religious site in Taplejung district]," Home Secretary Prem Kumar told reporters.

    Local media reported that Adhikari had travelled to the area to inspect the construction of an airport.

    Residents informed the police about a huge flame at the crash site, moments after the helicopter was reported missing, Kathmandu Post said.

    The crash site is about 240 kilometres northeast of the capital Kathmandu.

    Air Dynasty is a private helicopter operator that caters for tourists and locals in the country's remote areas.

    It is just the latest aviation accident to plague Nepal, an impoverished Himalayan nation with a poor air safety record.

    In September 2018, six people were killed when a helicopter crashed in a dense forest area of central Nepal.

    In April last year, a Malaysian jet with 139 people on board aborted its takeoff and skidded off a runway.

    A month earlier, a US-Bangla Airlines plane crashed near an airport, killing 51 people.

    Nepal-based airlines are banned from flying in the European Union airspace.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies