Exactly 18 years ago (14 January, 2001) an MI-8 helicopter carrying Mongolian government officials, United Nations staff, journalists and the flight crew crashed in Uvs province, killing over twenty. The people on board were flying by Mongolian Airlines (MIAT) flight JU1025 to assess damages and disaster due to winter drought in Uvs Province crashed tragically. They had planned to fly back to Ulaanbaatar the next day, but they never returned. They were on an official humanitarian mission to determine how the world could help the many Mongolians affected by the ‘dzud’ of 2001.
The crew departed from Ulaangom on the morning of 14 January and tried to land on the winter grazing land of herder Zandan, which was located at the foot of Mount Bayankhairkhan, 2,275 meters above sea level, and 15 kilometers southeast of Malchin soum in Uvs Province. However, the Russian-made MI-8 helicopter spun out of control about 50 meters (165 feet) off the ground, crashed and exploded in flames.
The victims included Sh.Otgonbileg, Member of Parliament of Mongolia; Sabine Metzner-Strack from Germany, United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team leader and head of the Asia & Pacific Desk Disaster Response Branch in OCHA; Gerard Le Claire from Jersey, United Kingdom, UNDAC team member and Director of Environmental Services of the Jersey Planning & Environmental Department; Matthew Girvin from the United States of America, Programme Officer of the UNICEF office in Mongolia; Batchuluun Bayarmaa from Mongolia, Programme Officer of the UNFPA office in Mongolia; Tsevegmid Batzorig, photographer from Mongolia’s Gamma Agency; Takahiro Kato, reporter for NHK Japan; Minoru Masaki, cameraman for NHK Japan; and D.Otgon, the helicopter’s technician.
On July 21, a 2.5 meter marble sculpture was built close to the accident site. The sculpture is carved with the words “On January 14, 2001 people on a humanitarian mission were lost. They will never be forgotten.” The names of deceased are also on the sculpture. The Bayarmaa Foundation, named after B.Bayarmaa, was established and a monument dedicated to Sh.Otgonbileg was unveiled in the city of Erdenet.