7 Foreigners, 5 Nepalese killed in UN chopper crash

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Kathmandu, March 4: Seven foreigners, including three crew members, and five Nepalese were on board the UN helicopter that crashed in eastern Nepal yesterday, officials said today. Five epalese working in the UNMIN office in Kathmandu, four international arms monitors from Gambia, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and Sweden and three air crew -- including two Russians and one Belarussian-- died in the crash, officials said.

The helicopter crashed in Ramechhap district in eastern Nepal while flying back here from Sindhuli district in eastern Nepal after inspecting the Maoists camp which was being monitored by the UNMIN. Local people said the helicopter crupted into flames before coming down to land. Most of the bodies were charred beyond recognition.

Rescuers could reach the site only this morning due to bad weather in the area.

The United Nations has notified the respective Permanent Missions of each of the countries of deceased UN international personnel, and they are in the process of contacting the families, UNMIN said in a press release today.

An UNMIN team left Kathmandu by road last night and is now at the accident site. Investigation is primarily a matter for Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority, with the participation of UNMIN and the aircraft company.

The UNMIN was in the process of recovering the remains of the deceased so that they could be returned to Kathmandu at the earliest, All necessary arrangements to ensure that the wishes of the families in this matter were facilitated.

''On behalf of the Secretary-General, I express my deepest condolences to the families of the deceased. They died while working to sustain peace in Nepal, and the UNMIN will continue to apply its best efforts to this purpose,'' Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Nepal, Ian Martin, said.

UNI

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