… the father, the pilot, and another passenger survive the first helicopter crash

Chencho Dema  | Punakha

The woman who died along with her 18-month-old daughter in the helicopter crash yesterday is described as a ‘humble soul’ and ‘a lovely human being’ by those who know her.

The deceased’s neighbour, Japha Dorji, 48, who is currently in Punakha, said that the victims were too young to die. “The deceased had two daughters and a home in Punakha where they resided in winter.”

He said that the elder daughter of the deceased studied in one of the schools in Punakha. “Both the husband and the wife are in their late 30s,” he said.

A Laya resident Tshering Lham, who knew the deceased, said that it was “a terrible loss”. “She was a lovely human being and soft-spoken,” she said.

Among those who survived the helicopter (A5-BHT) crash which occurred yesterday at around 2.30pm at Wachey while travelling to Lunana were the pilot, the husband of the deceased woman, and another passenger.

Altogether there were five people in the helicopter: the pilot and four passengers. The pilot and the other passengers both sustained injuries, but their conditions are said to be stable.

Drukair in a press release stated that the cause of the helicopter crash is not known yet and that the case is under investigation in a press release issued on social media yesterday after the incident.

“Our emergency response plan has been activated to rescue the survivors and provide all the necessary support to the family of the deceased. We would like to extend our deep condolences to the families and friends of the pilot and the passengers,” the press release stated.

A health assistant (HA) from Lhedi, which is roughly a six-hour walk from Wachey, was dispatched immediately to the scene to aid the victims and the deceased.

According to Lunana Gup Kaka, the locals will remove the deceased’s bodies from the forest, pitch a tent, and keep them there for the time being. “I am being told that the father is stable and not seriously hurt, but he is mourning,” the gup said.

The gup said the baby could be around a year and a half old. “I am coordinating with the tshogpa and do not have much information for now,” he said yesterday night.

The locals of Wachey evacuated the pilot and two other passengers to a safe place by yesterday evening and they were said to be in stable condition.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister’s office (PMO) stated, “While we are still trying to comprehend the tragic helicopter crash at Lunana today, we pray for the mother and daughter who lost their lives to the tragic accident. Our primary concern now is the injured ones. We are going all out to closely monitor the health and status of the pilot and the rest of the family members onboard. We will keep the nation informed.”

The majority of the highlanders who use helicopter services are residents of Lunana.

The first helicopter flight landed in Lunana on November 14, 2015.  On July 9, 2015, Drukair Helicopter Services, formerly known as Royal Bhutan Helicopter Services was launched. The average cost of a helicopter is Nu 240 million.