Both ExWeb and Alan Arnette are reporting that a helicopter crashed on Ama Dablam this weekend, killing the pilot and crew member on board at the time. The rescue vehicle was attempting to rescue two stranded Japanese climbers at the time.
According to the reports, the aircraft was making a second trip to the mountain from Lukla when it suddenly, and dramatically, fell out of the sky. It is unclear at this time as to the cause of the crash, but ExWeb quotes local civil aviation authorities as saying they believe that high winds in the region played a part in the crash.
Also unclear is the status of the two stranded climbers. In his post on the subject, Alan says there are conflicting reports that say that one or both of the climbers were retrieved safely before the helicopter went down, but at this time, there exact status is unclear.
The helicopter was operated by Fishtale Air, and was flown by Sabin Basnet, with engineer, Purna Awale serving as the crew. These two men are a significant loss to the search and rescue teams in the Khumbu region, as it was Basnet who flew to Camp 2 on Everest this past spring to make a rescue at 6400 meters (21,000 ft), something that had never been accomplished before. Alan also points out that Basnet had more than 4500 hours of flight time, making him one of the more experienced pilots in the Himalaya. This is a tough loss for Fishtale, which operates five helicopters in the area, making regular shuttle runs and rescue operations.
My condolences to the families of both men.
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