Ras Al Khaimah: Public access to Jebel Jais mountain in Ras Al Khaimah, as well as the adventure zip line on it, has been closed following a helicopter crash on Saturday in which all four crew members died, an official said on Sunday.
Haitham Mattar, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, told Gulf News on Sunday that they have closed the entire area of Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest mountain, until investigations are completed.
Also, Toroverde Ras Al Khaimah, which operates the zip line, posted a statement on its website saying the zip line is closed until further notice.
The statement said: “Jebel Jais Mountain Park and access road have been closed until further notice, in order to give the Emergency services the access they need.
All the World’s Longest Zipline’s flights are cancelled until further notice and we will be in direct contact with all our customers by phone immediately. Thank you for your understanding.”
Mattar said: “We learnt of the helicopter accident on Jebel Jais mountain and can assure everyone that there were no injuries to any of the public on Jebel Jais or our team on the mountain. We await further details pending the outcome of the investigation ordered by His Highness Shaikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.”
Saturday’s crash happened after a rescue helicopter clipped a zip line on Jebel Jais, resulting in the deaths of the four crew members.
The National Search and Rescue Centre (NSRC) on Sunday announced the names of the four-person crew that was killed while performing their duty on board an Agusta 139 rescue helicopter.
The crew was comprised of pilots Saqr Saeed Mohammad Abdullah Al Yamahi and Hameed Mohammad Obaid Al Za’abi; navigator Jasem Abdullah Ali Tunaiji; and first aid man Mark Roxburgh.
Shaikh Saud on Saturday ordered an immediate investigation into the crash.
A top official said: “The accident happened at 5.50pm on Saturday. The helicopter was on a mission to airlift an injured man from Jebel Jais. The helicopter crashed before reaching the man.”
Gulf News has learnt that Roxburg, the first aid man, had contacted Saqr Hospital on Saturday at 5.10pm — 40 minutes before the tragic crash — to inform them about an incident on Jebel Jais, saying there was an injured man who they would airlift to the hospital.
Mohammad Rashid Bin Arsheed, director-general of Saqr Hospital, told Gulf News on Sunday that the hospital received a 45-year-old Indian man, identified only as R.B., who was injured on Jebel Jais on Saturday evening.
The man had fractured his left leg and needed surgery after a fall. The man was scheduled for surgery on Sunday.
Meanwhile, a committee from air defence, police, national ambulance and NSRC has been formed to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the incident.
Mattar said the accident occurred despite the presence of safety instructions and signs about the zip line. He added that they are waiting the report from authorities.
The ‘Jebel Jais Flight’ zip line is the world’s longest zip line in Ras Al Khaimah. It is 2.8km long — the length of 28 football fields — and runs at a height of 1,680m above sea level on Jebel Jais mountain. By comparison, Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower in Dubai, is 828m high.
The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has identified the chopper as an Agusta 139 helicopter. It also said the incident took place during a rescue mission next to Jebel Jais.
On Sunday, a friend of Roxburgh’s sister tagged her tributes for him in a post on Facebook.
Sally, Roxburgh’s sister, also grieved for the families of the other three crew members who lost their lives.
Sally described him as her “biggest hero”, and “a strong, courageous, selfless man…A loving Uncle, son and brother…a passionate father”.
“I have no words to describe the heartache … We are beyond broken,” she wrote.
“The world is less a hero, as God has taken him home”.