Locals blame cloud, strong winds for chopper crash

Published On: March 1, 2019 07:00 AM NPT By: Khagendra Adhikari

TAPLEJUNG, Mar 1: After the crash of an Air Dynasty helicopter in Taplejung, killing seven including Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari, locals know about the weather and terrain of the area have guessed the cloud and strong wind as the reason behind the accident.

Most of the locals have said that the chopper headed to unusual direction apparently to avoid the thick cloud but hit the cliff failing to rise due to the strong wind in the area. “High-speed wind and cloud might have forced the pilot to divert the route but he failed to maintain the direction and hit the cliff,” said Ishwari Paudel, Managing Director of Himalayan Guides Expedition Company. He also claimed that mountain flights of such helicopter can carry only up to five passengers.

Helicopters flying from Pathivara a Hindu deity temple, which is a popular pilgrimage destination in eastern Nepal, take flights from the Suketar airport to Kathmandu, according to the locals. Indra Narayan Bhattarai, who runs a hotel near the Pathivara Temple, has seen the route of the helicopter to Kathmandu above Suketar via the Bhalugauda. But in contrast to the usual route, the Air Dynasty chopper was headed for Sisnekhola on Wednesday. Though he is not an aviation expert, Bhattarai assumed that the pilot could have failed to keep the chopper in the right direction due to the strong wind and overload.

“We were surprised to see the chopper choosing a different direction than the regular route after taking off. We assume the strong wind pushed the chopper toward the cliff,” said Ghanashyam Paudel a local. Rescuers found that both nose and tail sides of the helicopter collided against the cliff. They assume that which could have been caused while trying to taking turn against the wind.

Overload has been equally blamed for the accident. Last October, a chopper carrying then Tourism Secretary Krishna Devkota had to make an emergency landing due to overloading after adding fifth passenger excluding the pilot en route to Kathmandu. “I had to disembark from the chopper after the chopper failed to take momentum after taking off up to 30 meters height,” said Gopal Neupane, executive member of the Pathivara Area Development Committee.

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