Kathmandu: A helicopter with seven people on board crashed into a hillside in central Nepal on Saturday with the condition of the passengers unknown, officials said.
The single-pilot Kathmandu-bound Altitude Air helicopter was carrying six passengers, including a Japanese trekker, when it lost contact with air traffic control after taking off from the central district of Gorkha.
The chopper’s wreckage had been spotted on a forested hillside in neighbouring Dhadhing district, said Kathmandu airport general manager Raj Kumar Chettri.
“We are trying to reach the crash site by air and on foot. But the weather is hampering our rescue operations,” he told AFP.
Nepal has a booming private helicopter industry, flying tourists and goods to remote corners of the Himalayan nation where road access is limited or non-existent.
But the impoverished country has a poor air safety record due to poorly trained staff and lacklustre maintenance.
In 2016, seven people were killed in a helicopter crash 22 kilometres (14 miles) north of the capital.
There were multiple helicopter accidents, claiming over a dozen lives, in the wake of a powerful 2015 earthquake when choppers were used to rescue the injured and deliver aid to communities cut off by the disaster.
The European Union banned all Nepalese airlines following international alarm over the country’s air safety record.