10 killed as UN helicopter crashes in Ramechhap

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Kathmandu, Mar 3 (UNI) A helicopter belonging to the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) crashed in Bethan VDC-9 of Ramechhap district in central Nepal this afternoon, killing ten people instantly.

Rescuers have recovered ten bodies from the crash site even as rescue works continue, media reports said. Only one body of pilot Bhim Bahadur Gurung, has been identified so far while others were burnt beyond recognition, they added.

''We have so far collected ten dead bodies from the site. We could only identify the body of the pilot by his ID card,'' Raju Khadka, a local resident, told the radio station at 1850 hrs (local time), ''The helicopter is still burning,'' Nepal News quoted him as saying.

He said the villagers heard a 'blast' with thick smoke billowing in the sky as the white chopper dropped in the field close to a settlement area. The incident occurred around 1600 hrs local time.

The Himalayan Times adds: ''We lost radio contact with a UN helicopter while it was returning from Ramechhap,'' Mohan Prasad Adhikari, a senior official at Tribhuvan International Airport told The Himalayan Times.

''As well as those killed, some are still stuck in the wreckage,'' informed Ramechhap DSP Khino Prasad Acharya.

The United Nations confirmed that it had lost contact with one of its helicopters that was returning from Sindhuli's Dudhauli to Chitwan's Jutpani and said it was seeking further information.

Earlier, Police Headquarters in Kathmandu said a UN helicopter was missing in the area since early this afternoon.

Details of the crash were awaited.

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