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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
No survivors in Nepal air crash
An undated hand-out photograph shows a MI-17 helicopter in Nepal.
The helicopter has been identified as a Russian Mi-17
Officials in Nepal say all 24 people, including a group of conservationists, who were in a helicopter which crashed in eastern Nepal have been killed.

A ground-based search team spotted the wreckage of the helicopter on Sunday evening after a two-day search.

The rescuers, who were carrying medical supplies, said they could see several bodies scattered at the site.

The helicopter lost radio contact during bad weather after it took off in a mountainous district on Saturday.

The chopper was carrying seven WWF employees - four Nepalis, an Australian, a Canadian and an American.

It was also carrying a Finnish diplomat, a US aid worker and two Russian crew members, as well as Nepalese officials and reporters.

Bad weather

Reports have quoted local people as saying they heard a loud bang shortly after the helicopter, chartered by the WWF, took off.

Air traffic officials in the capital, Kathmandu, said the rescuers spotted the wreckage at a site two kilometres (1.2 miles) from where the helicopter took off before disappearing.

Reports say the area is about 400km east of Kathmandu.

Those at the site say the aircraft broke up on crashing into a mountain and the bodies were scattered widely near a ravine. They say it is difficult to identify them.

A temporary helipad has been built at the scene and four helicopters are waiting at a nearby airstrip to recover the bodies.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kathmandu says incessant rain and cloud in this forested area mean this will not be possible before Tuesday.

Rain and low visibility had hampered efforts to find the helicopter, missing since noon local time (0615 GMT) on Saturday.

The helicopter party was returning from a landmark ceremony to hand over the Kanchenjunga conservation area from the government to the local community.

The helicopter, identified as a Russian-made Mi-172, had been on a 20-minute flight to a local airport, where the passengers had been due to take a flight to Kathmandu.


SEE ALSO
A conservation catastrophe for Nepal
25 Sep 06 |  South Asia
Nepal hunt for helicopter goes on
25 Sep 06 |  South Asia
Row over Everest helicopter claim
15 Aug 05 |  South Asia
Fatal helicopter crash on Everest
28 May 03 |  South Asia
Nepal rebels attack helicopter
19 Sep 02 |  South Asia
Nepal search for missing helicopter
02 Jun 02 |  South Asia

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