Near tragedy on Monte Rosa: 118 helicopter crashes

A drama that fortunately did not turn into a tragedy

This is the summary of the incident that occurred on the afternoon of Saturday, March 16th on the Alagna side of Monte Rosa, where a rescue helicopter from the 118 service crashed after takeoff from Borgosesia while trying to reach the highest refuge in Europe: the Capanna Regina Margherita.

On board were four people: the pilot, the Alpine rescue technician, the flight technician, and a dog handler, all of whom emerged from the incident unharmed and in good condition.

The words of a survivor

Interviewed by Corriere della Sera, Paolo Pettinaroli, the Sasp technician, from the Piedmontese Alpine and Speleological Rescue and a mountain guide from Domodossola, on board the crashed aircraft, recounted the dramatic adventure, describing it as a true miracle. He explained that everything was going well and that they were practically reaching their destination when they heard a thud followed by a crash to the ground.

Although the helicopter was destroyed, the rescue operation they were called for was completed: the rescuers extracted the stranded hiker from the crevasse, who then descended to the valley with teammates, while the rescuers waited for another helicopter from Zermatt to transfer them to the hospital for routine checks.

Authorities’ response

Following the news, those involved included, among others, Adriano Leli, the general director of Azienda Zero, and Roberto Vacca, the director of Elisosoccorso 118, along with the president of the Piedmont Region, Alberto Cirio, and the Health Assessor, Luigi Genesio Icardi.

It is not yet clear what caused the incident.

In an interview with the press, Mario Balzanelli, president of SIS 118 (Italian 118 Emergency Medical Services), told Adnkronos that the crash of a helicopter is usually associated with the death of those on board, but this time the entire crew emerged unscathed. The president once again emphasized how great the risk is in this profession, especially for those operating in very delicate conditions like helicopter rescue.


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