2 killed, 5 injured in plane crash at Tenzing–Hillary-Lukla airport in Nepal

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 14 April 2019, 11:05 AM
Photo tweeted by @RebeccaRambar
Photo tweeted by @RebeccaRambar

Two people were killed and five injured in a plane crash at Nepal’s Tenzing-Hillary Airport located in Lukla area on Sunday. According to news agency ANI, the aircraft collided with a parked chopper at the airport. According to Nepali digital magazine Setopati, there were no passengers in the plane else the number of casualties could have gone higher. According BBC Nepal, Imnath Adhikari, Director of the Lukla Airport, said that a driver of airline and one of the security personnel have died in the crash. The Lukla Airport serves as the ‘entrance gate’ to the Mount Everest. The Himalayan Times report says that the accident took place when Summit Air plane crashed into a Manang Air helicopter at the airport during the takeoff.

The Summit air aircraft was taking off when it collided with the chopper parked at the helipad in Tenzing-Hillary Airport, Solukhumbu, the report said. According to the spokesperson at the Tribhuvan International Airport, co-pilot S Dhungana and Assistant Sub-Inspector Ram Baadur Khadka were killed in the crash. Captain RB Rokaya, who was flying the ill-fated aircraft, has suffered grievous injuries.  

Gateway to Sagarmatha or the Mt Everest, the Lukla Airport is known as the deadliest airport in the world. The 500-metre-long runway can be toughest test even for the most seasoned pilots. With hostile weather and poor infrastructure, Lukla airport has seen several crashes in the past. The worst crash so far has been the one in 2008, where all 18 people aboard the plane died.

Also known as Tenzing-Hillary Airport after the first men to summit Everest, Lukla Airport has no radar system because of the high cost of installation, forcing officials to rely on an outdated voice communications system to track movements in the air, a 2015 news.com.au report said.

The story behind the origin of this airport is very intriguing. It is believed that mountaineering legend Sir Edmund Hillary planned to build the airfield on flat ground — but local farmers refused to part with their fertile land. So he bought a steep slope for $US635 and recruited scores of Sherpa villagers to cut down scrub with knives. “A very festive mood prevailed and the earth received a most resounding thumping. Two days of this rather reduced the Sherpas’ enthusiasm for the dance but produced a firm and smooth surface for our airfield,” Hillary wrote in his 1998 memoir, View from the Summit.

First Published: Sunday, April 14, 2019 09:50 AM
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