Monday, June 17, 2024

5 Mexican citizens die in helicopter crash near Mount Everest

Five Mexican tourists died on Tuesday in a helicopter crash near Mount Everest, in Nepal.

The crash occurred in the Lamajura area as the helicopter was returning to Kathmandu after a sightseeing trip to the world’s highest mountain. There were no survivors.

Instagram post of woman standing in front of Taj Mahal
One of the victims, Abril Sifuentes González, posted a photo of herself in front of the Taj Mahal days before the accident.  (Instagram)

The five passengers killed in the crash — all of them Mexican nationals — were identified as Fernando Sifuentes, Abril Sifuentes González, Luz González Olacio, María José Sifuentes and Ismael Rincón. The Nepalese pilot, identified in a Manang Air press release as Chet B. Gurug, also died.

Mexico’s Ambassdor to India Federico Salas told the news outlet Infobae that the victims were family members originally from Nuevo León.

Nepal’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAAN) reported that the helicopter went missing at 10:13 a.m. local time, eight minutes after takeoff, but did not specify what caused the crash. Lhakpa Sherpa, a resident of the area who joined the search and rescue operation, told local media that the helicopter had hit a tree and then crashed to the ground.

A local airport official said that the helicopter’s flight path had been changed due to bad weather, which also delayed the rescue mission.

Mexico Ambassador to India Federico Salas
According to Mexico Ambassador to India Federico Salas, the five victims besides the pilot, who also died, were from a Nuevo León family. (Federico Salas/Twitter)

“Due to adverse weather conditions, helicopters could not land at the crash site [and] have now landed at Bhakanje … which is the nearest appropriate place to the crash site,” CAAN said in a statement.

A few hours later, CAAN confirmed that all six bodies had been airlifted to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu for an autopsy before they would be handed over to next of kin.

The Mexican Embassy in India said on Twitter that its officials were “in continual communication with the authorities of Nepal regarding the tragic helicopter accident.”

Tourist flights to Everest are uncommon after the mountaineering season ends in May, as the monsoon season brings heavy rains, poor visibility and unpredictable weather conditions.

Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Katmandu
All six victims were taken to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Katmandu for autopsies. (Tribhuvan University)

Nepal’s challenging terrain, coupled with a lack of pilot training and with maintenance issues, have given the country a reputation for poor aviation safety. 

This crash is the latest in a series of helicopter and airplane accidents in the country over recent years.

With reports from Associated Press, Infobae and Reforma

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