The Committee on Emergency Situations and Civil Defense (CES) under the Government of Tajikistan has reported that an Mi-8 helicopter with 3 crew and 13 mountaineers on board was forced to make a crash landing yesterday afternoon, at about 4:30 pm, as it approached the base camp at the Fortambek Glacier.

The mountaineers were returning to the base camp after ascending Tajikistan’s tallest mountain – Ismoili Somoni Peak, an official source at one of Tajik tourist companies told Asia-Plus in an interview..

According to him, the majority of the mountaineers are nationals of the Russian Federation but there are also nationals of Belarus and Spain among them.

“There are casualties and injured among those who were on the helicopter board,” the source added.  

Two helicopters carrying rescue and medical personnel were reportedly dispatched to the site of the accident today morning.

Ismoili Somoni Peak is the highest mountain in Tajikistan.  It was within the territory of the former Russian Empire and the former Soviet Union before the area became independent as Tajikistan.  The mountain is named after Ismoili Somoni, a ruler of the Samanid dynasty.

When the existence of a peak in the Soviet Pamir Mountains higher than Lenin Peak was first established in 1928, the mountain was tentatively identified with Garmo Peak.  However, as the result of the work of further Soviet expeditions, it became clear by 1932 that they were not the same, and in 1933 the new peak, in the Academy of Sciences Range, was named Stalin Peak, after Joseph Stalin.  In 1962, as part of Khrushchev's nationwide de-Stalinization process, the name was changed to Communism Peak, a name by which it is still commonly known.  The name Communism Peak was officially dropped in 1998 in favor of the current name, commemorating the 9th century Samanid emir, Ismoili Somoni.

The first ascent was made on September 3, 1933 by the Soviet mountaineer Yevgeniy Abalakov.