-  Saturday 24 October 2020

UN says 10 killed in Nepal helicopter crash

Kathmandu, March 03 2008 - A United Nations helicopter crashed in Nepal on Monday, killing all 10 people on board, including some foreigners, officials said.

"Seven United Nations personnel and three crew were on the helicopter," UN spokesman Keiran Dwyer told AFP.

Nepal's home ministry earlier said there were 12 people on the helicopter, but the UN official said there were only 10 on board when it went down a remote district of eastern Nepal.

The UN said the helicopter was returning from a visit to a camp containing former Maoist guerrillas but no information was given regarding the number of foreigners killed in the accident.

Home ministry spokesman Modraj Dottel told AFP earlier there were seven Nepalese and five foreigners on board the helicopter.

"The government of Nepal is extremely saddened by the loss and we will undertake recovery work as soon as the weather permits," Dottel said, adding that the cause of the accident was unknown.

Police from Ramechhap district 85 kilometres (50 miles) east of Kathmandu, said the helicopter caught fire and crashed in heavy rain and wind.

A team of 12 police officers had reached the site, but their recovery work was hampered by the weather conditions and hilly terrain, said Pushpa Shrestha, a local police officer from the hilly district.

The helicopter burned for around three hours before locals and police officers doused the flames, the police officer said.

"Nightfall, the weather conditions and terrain are causing problems," in the recovery operation, the home ministry official said.

Nepal's mountainous terrain and lack of roads mean helicopters are commonly used for transportation by government officials and development workers.

In late 2006, 24 people -- including senior government officials and diplomats -- died in a helicopter crash caused by adverse weather in east Nepal.

The UN has been helping to monitor a landmark peace deal reached between former Maoist rebels and the government in November 2006.

The world body is keeping tabs on the former guerrillas and is also assisting with crucial polls planned for April to elect a body to decide the country's political future.

The body elected to rewrite the constitution will likely formally end the world's last Hindu monarchy headed by unpopular King Gyanendra, who was forced to end an authoritarian period of direct rule in the face of mass protests in April 2006.

Source : AFP

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