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Everest BC Helicopter crash - Full report and images
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Jun 2, 2005 12: 03 EST
The medical staff at BC’s clinic was first-line witnesses of an helicopter crash earlier this morning. Here goes their full-detail report, and some images sent live from the scene. The guys also want to make clear that helicopter flights to Everest BC shouldn’t be viewed as a taxi service, and be used only as last resource in emergency cases.

“This morning a big MI-17 helicopter crashed in Everest Base Camp!! As if by miracle nobody was injured or got hit by the flying debris. The scenario is almost an exact repeat of the crash in 2003: it is the end of season, an elective, non urgent convenience flight sent to pick up a Nepali team not wanting to walk down, the heli carrying television and media crew up to base camp.”

Air taxi service?

”This was the third helicopter to come to base camp this morning and it crashed while attempting to land. The tail rotor hit the ground, the body spun out of control, rotor blades exploded and sent debris flying.”

“Luckily it didn’t flip over and landed on its belly, everybody got out safely and nobody on the ground was hurt. Our next concern was then the crew and passengers who came up from Kathmandu. Not being acclimatised to the altitude, they could get seriously sick after a sudden ascent to 17,600 ft if they had to spend the night. We started walking everybody down to Gorak Shep immediately and fortunately another helicopter was able to land in a safer landing area to pick everybody up a few hours later.”

“In all, an accident that could have been avoided… “

Use only in case of emergency

“From the beginning of the season we had been discouraging people from taking nonessential helicopter flights from base camp, encouraging all to only use helicopters up here for absolute emergencies. The wreckage of the 2003 crash a grim reminder that EBC airspace is potentially hazardous and landings are tricky.”

“However, as this is the end of (a long) season and people are not excited to walk down, this advice has been ignored a few times, and some have elected to ignore caution and arrange flights from EBC anyway.”

“Also, this morning’s events have made our helipad unusable now, and if there would be another emergency, it would mean an extra walk down to Gorak Shep. Fortunately this is the end of the season and all teams but one has made their summit attempts. A lot of people have already left and most others will do so in the next few days….. Walking down, that is.”

Image of the crashed helicopter, courtesy of Base Camp MD.
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