Seven WWF Staff Dead in Helicopter Crash in Nepal


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The wreckage of the Shree Air helicopter was found today 1.8 kilometres (1.15 miles) from Ghunsa village. Rescuers had been looking for the crash site since the helicopter disappeared shortly after noon Nepal time (6.00 GMT) on Saturday.

"The helicopter has been found, and it appears that there are no survivors, but we are waiting for final confirmation," WWF Director General James Leape said this morning.

Seven WWF staff from its offices in Nepal, the UK and the US were on board, as well as high-ranking government officials, representatives of other agencies, journalists and Russian crew members.

The helicopter was returning from an inauguration ceremony which saw the Nepalese government turn over the conservation of the wildlife and habitats surrounding Kangchenjunga - the world's third-highest mountain - to a coalition of local communities.

The Kangchenjunga Conservation Area is known for its rich biodiversity, spectacular scenery and vibrant cultural heritage. Launched in 1998, it is designed to conserve globally threatened wildlife species such as the snow leopard and red panda while supporting the local communities through health services, informal education and income-generating activities.