An eyewitness who was at the scene described the moment the plane came hurling towards the helipad
from the flight takeoff point.
“The plane started to roll with its nose down from the end of the runway where the airport terminal is located.
After rolling for about 30 metres in full speed, the aircraft lost control and suddenly turned right before hitting
the Manang Air helicopter,” said Ang Tashi Sherpa, an eyewitness of the Sunday’s accident who works as
a rescue specialist for Simrik Air.
“The aircraft first hit Manang Air helicopter standing on the upper helipad which had its rotors spinning,
and was dragged downwards before it hit the Shree Air helicopter parked at the lower helipad,” said Ang Tashi.
Ang Tashi said passengers at the airport, most of whom were foreign trekkers and mountaineers,
started to scream and rush to the crash site.
Tribhuvan International Airport spokesperson Pratap Babu Tiwari said that Assistant Sub-inspector
Ram Bahadur Khadka stationed at the helipad for duty was killed on the spot. Assistant Sub-inspector
Rudra Bahadur Shrestha, who was injured in the incident and airlifted to Kathmandu, died at
Grande International Hospital later in the morning, hospital officials told the Post.
Rabindra Rokaya, the captain of the flight who was assisting the co-pilot, and Chet Gurung, captain of
the Manang Air helicopter, and Lakpa Sherpa, an official with Manang Air, were injured in the accident.
They are receiving treatment at Grande Hospital and are out of danger, doctors said.
According to Ang Tashi, the Manang Air helicopter’s rotors were spinning after it dropped some government officials
at Lukla, including chief district officer and police officials who had arrived in Solukhumbu district
to participate in a New Year event. Two policemen who were killed on the ground had been mobilised
for the security of the government officials, he said.
“The accident happened just a few minutes after the chief district officer and the police officials disembarked
from the chopper,” Ang Tashi said.
“At first, I was afraid to enter the Manang Air chopper because there was smoke coming from the back of the plane,”
he said, recalling moments after the crash. “After a while, when I entered the chopper and tried to pull the helicopter captain out of his seat, he told me he could not move because of severe back pain,” said Ang Tashi.
“I asked him whether the main fuel was shut off. He told me it was.”
According to Ang Tashi, the co-pilot may have died because of the impact of the Manang Air’s rotor that
could have hit him. “The plane had dragged the helicopter down for few seconds and the rotor was still spinning,”
This isthe second crashof Summit Air, formally known as Goma Air, and third crash with casualties in Lukla.
Two years ago, Summit Air Flight 409 crashed on its final approach to Lukla, killing two pilots. In 2008,
a Yeti Airlines flight crashed while making a final approach and caught fire, killing 18 passengers and flight crew.