Tuesday July 23, 2024

Tourist killed by helicopter tail rotor in Nepal

August 15, 2018

KATHMANDU: An Indian tourist died in Nepal on Tuesday after he walked into the tail rotor of a helicopter at a remote helipad near the border with China, officials confirmed.

The 42-year-old man was disembarking from the chopper at Hilsa -- the staging point for popular pilgrimage sites in neighbouring Tibet -- when the accident happened. "He was hit on his head by the tail rotor after he got off from the helicopter and died on the spot," said district police chief Gahendra Bahadur Bogati.

Nepal has a booming private helicopter industry, flying tourists and goods to remote corners of the Himalayan nation where road access is limited or impossible. But the impoverished country has a poor air safety record due to poorly trained staff and lacklustre maintenance.

A helicopter pilot described safety standards at Hilsa helipad as "nil". "There is stuff up there that is simply unsafe, particularly in terms of crowd control on the helipad," the pilot told AFP, requesting anonymity.

There were multiple helicopter accidents, claiming over a dozen lives, in the wake of the powerful 2015 earthquake in Nepal when choppers were used to rescue the injured and deliver aid to communities cut off by the disaster. Thousands of mostly Indian pilgrims travel through Nepal to Mount Kailash in Tibet each year, a site considered sacred in both Hinduism and Buddhism.