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Nepal tourist helicopter crash near Mount Everest kills six people

New Delhi — A helicopter carrying foreign tourists crashed near Mount Everest in Nepal, killing all six people on board, authorities said Tuesday. The bodies of five Mexican tourists, including three women, and a Nepali pilot were found at the crash site.
The private commercial helicopter, operated by Manang Air, crashed early Tuesday in the remote mountainous district of Solukhumbu, east of Nepal's capital Kathmandu. It was carrying the tourists on a sightseeing tour of the Mount Everest region.
Manang Air is among several services that operate such tours of Nepal's iconic mountain peaks.
The helicopter took off at about 9:45 a.m. local time, headed back to the capital Kathmandu after its tour. Air traffic control lost contact with the helicopter less than half an hour after take-off, according to local officials.
"Locals discovered the crashed helicopter at Chihandanda," rural municipality deputy chair Nwang Lhakpa was quoted as saying by the Kathmandu Post.
Nepal's civil aviation authority was expected to launch a formal investigation into the cause of the crash.
"The weather was not bad. Now we can't say what caused the crash. It will have to be investigated," Raju Neupane, a spokesperson for Manang Air, was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.
The crash was the latest in a series of aviation accidents to hit Nepal – a country of rugged terrain and small, difficult air strips. According to the Flight Safety Foundation's Aviation Safety database, there have been 42 fatal plane crashes in Nepal since 1946.
Earlier this year, 72 people were killed when a passenger jet crashed as it tried to land in Pokhara in central Nepal, in the country's deadliest aviation accident in three decades.
In 1992, all 167 people on board a Pakistan International Airlines plane were killed when it crashed into a hill as it tried to land in Kathmandu.
Last year, 22 people died when a plane crashed into a mountainside in Nepal.