[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
LANGUAGES
Urdu
Hindi
Bengali
Pashto
Nepali
Tamil
Sinhala
Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 May, 2003, 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK
'Rotor blades went flying'
Three people are feared dead after the helicopter crash at Everest base camp. BBC correspondent Tom Heap was at the scene and described the rescue efforts.

The helicopter was circling around base camp looking for the helipad, trying to get the right kind of altitude to land.

Just as it was going over a ridge, my colleague Rob Feast actually filmed it going down below the ridge and then we saw rotor blades flying in the air followed by smoke. Luckily the whole thing didn't explode in flames so there was a chance of survivors.

We all rushed over there along with just about everybody who's currently in base camp and we found the engine was still going. The thing was shuddering and sort of quivering on the ground.

Eventually someone got the engine off so it became safer and then people were trying to remove trapped - both dead and injured - people from beneath the helicopter itself. It had actually come down in a small glacial gully which had a stream running through the bottom and one of the people was trapped in that stream. The urgent thing was to keep his face up so he could breathe out of water. You can imagine how cold the stream was.

It seems that some of the people killed were actually on the ground - they were some trekkers and also some porters - because it landed at the entrance to base camp. One of them may have actually been hit on the head by the wheel of the chopper.

Eventually the team did manage to extract one of the injured from underneath the helicopter and I think he will probably survive. I think they probably got him out early enough.

Helicopters here are very controversial. Two years ago they were banned and no-one quite knows why they've come back. But the fact is it is all part of the commercialisation - the development of Everest typified more than ever in this 50th anniversary year.

We've got a record number of teams here and people have got the money and the ability to say, I'll get a chopper rather than walk because it's exhausting to walk five days down to the nearest airport. But they're operating on the edge of their abilities to fly because the air is so thin. You can't get the cushion of air and it's difficult to get the lift.

Someone suggested to me that the Nepalese Government has again imposed a ban - so no more helicopter flights to base camp. But it's after the horse has bolted.



WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Tom Heap reports from Everest
"The helicopter was coming in to pick up a group of climbers"



EVEREST CONQUEST 50 YEARS ON

FEATURES

1953 file photo of Edmund Hillary Hillary lament
The mountain's first conqueror criticises those who buy their way to the summit

Everest collection
A history in pictures

IN THEIR STEPS - A DAILY DIARY
 

NEWS


FROM THE ARCHIVE


ASK THE EXPERT




PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific