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Chopper crashes near Manali, four killed

April 29, 2003 16:48 IST

A helicopter belonging to a private skiing company crashed on Tuesday morning minutes after takeoff killing all four persons on board, including two foreigners, near the Manali tourist resort, 260km from Shimla in Himachal Pradesh.

The four-seater Lama chopper, belonging to the Himachal Helicopter Skiing Company, hurtled down and broke into pieces after it took off from Pirni helipad at 0800 IST.

The debris fell into a canal along the Pirni helipad highway, just a kilometer from the residence of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The pilot was identified as Captain Krishan Tomar (26) while the foreigners were John Murphy (30) from Japan and Xoch Castino (24) from Columbia. The fourth victim was Madhvi Gautam, a receptionist working in a local hotel.

Australian Rodney Mackenzie, who has been organising skiing activities as an adventure sport for the past 15 years, owns the skiing company.

It is for the third time in a year that the company's helicopter has been involved in an accident.

One chopper had to force land near Aud in Mandi district in March while another was badly damaged after force landing near Bhrigu Lake last year. There were, however, no casualties in the two incidents.

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