DUSHANBE/KHOROG, March 11, Asia-Plus  -- Tajik transportation prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into a Saturday’s helicopter crash in Gorno Badakhshan. 

Speaking in an interview with Asia-Plus, the GBAO prosecutor Rashid Gulmadshoyev said that representative from Tajikistan’s transportation prosecutor’s office arrived in Khorog on March 9 and together with a group of rescuers visited the crash site.  One of Black Boxes was found not far from the crash site, according to the GBAO prosecutor.     

In aviation, the term Black Box refers to the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder responsible for recording the last minutes of an aircraft flight.  The phrase has become popularized by modern media while reporting aircraft crashes, despite the fact that the devices are usually not black.

A source at the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) said that the Black Box had been sent for deciphering to Russian specialists.  Most likely, specialists from the CIS Interstate Aviation Committee will also participate in deciphering the Black Box, according to the source.    

The MoTC source added that a special commission, comprising representatives from the MoTC, national air carrier TajikAir, transportation prosecutor’s office and the ministry of interior (MoI), had been set up to investigate the crash.  

We will recall that according to a MoI, one person was killed and at least five others were injured Saturday as a helicopter with foreign mountaineers aboard crashed in GBAO’s Shugnan district.

The MoI source said that the accident took place on March 8, in the afternoon some 80 kilometers east of Khorog, the capital of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (Gorno Badakhshan or GBAO).  

The MoI resource noted that the Mi-8 helicopter owned by Tajik national air carrier TajikAir departed the Dushanbe airport at 10:47 a.m.  In Shugnan’s village of Vir, the helicopter took eleven mountain climbers from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, France, Russia and Switzerland and interpreter (Tajik national), who were making a trip to the area.  

“According to the preliminary data, the helicopter went down in the mountains some 80 kilometers east of Khorog,” said the source.  “As a result of the crash, the helicopter commander Tolib Sardorov was killed, while two crewmembers Rahim Rahimov and Rahmon Homidov, interpreter Bobojon Jourayev and two mountain climbers – one French, the other one Russian - got injuries of different degrees of severity.”

The same day helicopters of TajikAir and Helicopter Operation of the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) were sent to evacuate the crash victims.  The injured were hospitalized in stable condition, according to the source.   

The cause of the crash is under investigation. 

According to reliable source, the mountain climbers arrived in Tajikistan by invitation of International Mountaineering Center Alp-Mashkov, although foreign tourists have been advised to refrain from trips to Tajikistan because of possible natural disasters. 

 In the meantime, Davlat Habibov, the director of the International Mountaineering Center Alp-Mashkov, said that the center had organized the trip of a group of foreign tourists, mountain climbers and downhill skiers in accordance with their application.  “Because of bad weather conditions the tourists went to Khorog by vehicles on March 6 and the helicopter flew to Khorog on March 8 as flight weather set in,” said Habibov.  “The weather in Khorog was fine and the helicopter took the tourists at around 2:00 p.m. and flew to the assigned area…”