Six climbers and a crew member were rescued from the site of a helicopter accident in a remote mountainous region of Tajikistan while nine others remain missing after a “hard landing”, emergency services said.
The Tajik Committee for Emergency Situations told AFP that a rescue helicopter reached the site in the east of the country and brought back the first group of six mountaineers and a crew member of the Mi-8 accident.
“Some of the climbers suffered injuries. They are receiving help,” the committee said.
It added that two other rescue helicopters were on their way to the site, around 300 kilometres east of the capital Dushanbe.
Earlier authorities said 16 people were feared dead in the accident that took place on Sunday at 1130 GMT, the committee said, and two helicopters have been sent on a rescue and recovery mission to the crash site.
The emergency committee said the group had been climbing the Ismoili Somoni mountain that was once known as Peak Communism and was the highest in the Soviet Union. The statement did not identify the climbers or the crew.
The accident comes two weeks after four Western cyclist tourists were killed in an attack initially reported as a hit-and-run road accident, striking a blow to the country’s emerging tourism sector.
The attack that saw the tourists rammed with a car before being attacked with knives was claimed by the Islamic State group, although the authoritarian government refused to acknowledge the group’s claim.