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Last Updated: Monday, 3 March 2008, 20:41 GMT
Fatal UN Nepal helicopter crash
Nepal map
A United Nations helicopter has crashed in stormy weather in Nepal, killing all 10 people on board.

The UN aircraft was returning to the capital, Kathmandu, after a regular visit to a camp for former Maoist rebels in eastern Nepal.

The helicopter burst into flames after being struck by lightning in the remote Ramechhap district, 65km (40 miles) east of Kathmandu, witnesses said.

Ten bodies had been pulled from the wreckage, rescue workers said.

Thee crew members and seven UN officials - mainly weapons inspectors from the United Nations Mission in Nepal (Unmin) - were aboard the stricken vehicle.

The UN lost contact with the aircraft at about 1600 (1015 GMT), a spokesman said, adding that several Unmin parties had been dispatched to the hillside area where the helicopter went down.

Bad weather

Police took several hours to reach the crash-site on foot as it is inaccessible by road.

Maoists in Nepal (file pic)
The Maoists gave up their armed revolt in November 2006

Darkness and poor weather made it too difficult to use helicopters, which Mohan Adhikari, chief of the air rescue unit at Kathmandu airport, said would be sent out on Tuesday morning.

Unmin has been assisting Nepal's peace process since the Maoists - a communist rebel group - gave up their armed revolt and joined mainstream politics in November 2006.

UN arms monitors have supervised the presence of the rebels and their weapons in camps around the country.

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19 Feb 08 |  Country profiles

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