June 3, 2015
At least four persons, including three Nepalis and a Dutch woman working for Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) were killed on Tuesday when their helicopter crashed while returning after distributing relief materials to earthquake victims in Nepal's mountainous region.
The four bodies were recovered by a soldier from Gorakh Bahadur Battalion, a senior army official said.
The chopper, seen flying at low altitude, crashed into a high-tension electric line, according to eyewitnesses.
The victims on the 9N-AJP chopper included the pilot, Captain Subek Shrestha, said Shrestha Mountain Air Manager Basanta Bhandari. The chopper was being chartered by Medecins Sans Frontieres through Mountain Air.
Other members of the Nepali crew were Dr. Sandip Mahat and Sher Bahadur Karki (photo not available).
A Dutch doctor working with Medecins Sans Frontieres, also killed in the helicopter crash has been identified as 32-year-old Jessica Wilford from Eindhoven.
According to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) acting General Manager Birendra Prasad Shrestha, the helicopter had left for Dolakha from Kathmandu with relief materials. TIA Air Traffic Controller chief Bharat Sharma added that another helicopter had been dispatched to the site for search and rescue operations.
This is the second tragic helicopter accident to have occurred in earthquake-ravaged Nepal in the last month. On May 12, a US military helicopter engaged in quake-relief operations had come down in Nepal, killing six US Marines and two Nepalese soldiers.
A Medecins Sans Frontieres spokesperson said that they were “currently working on confirming the identities of the victims of the crash. It is really tragic. Three of our staff were onboard that flight."
For carrying out relief work in the quake-hit country, MSF has hired two helicopters from Nepal to run mobile clinic services in far-flung areas like Sindhupalchok, Rasuwa, Gorkha and Dhading.
It ran several sorties to Sindhupalchok, the worst affected district in the country, to rush relief and medical aid.
A United Nations official on Tuesday said up to 2.8 million Nepalese people are in need of humanitarian aid following the April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks, including more than 800,000 who live in remote, mountainous areas.