Eight dead in Nepal chopper crash

2015-05-15 22:04
(AFP photo / handout / US Marine Corps Lance CPL. Mandaline Hatch)

(AFP photo / handout / US Marine Corps Lance CPL. Mandaline Hatch)

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Kathmandu - Eight people - six US Marines and two Nepalese soldiers - died when their helicopter crashed in a mountainous region of earthquake-devastated Nepal, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said on Friday.

The UH-1Y Huey had been delivering aid when it disappeared on Tuesday, with the wreckage only found on Friday after a search mission involving helicopters and hundreds of American and Nepalese troops.

"Today our hearts are heavy with grief for the US Marines who perished when their helicopter went down in the mountains of Nepal earlier this week while providing aid to earthquake victims there," Carter said in a statement.

"We also join our Nepalese partners in mourning the loss of their service members who were onboard the helicopter at the time."

The US defence chief added: "Our mission continues in Nepal, and we remain dedicated to answering the call when disaster strikes, both in the Asia-Pacific and around the world."

John Wissler, the commander of the joint task force investigating the helicopter's disappearance earlier confirmed the wreckage of the helicopter had been found, describing the incident as a "severe crash".

He said he could not yet "positively identify the cause of the mishap", adding that recovery operations would resume on Saturday after being called off due to heavy thunderstorms.

The aircraft was spotted in a remote forest around 70km northeast of Kathmandu, according to Nepalese army official Major General Binoj Basnet.

Basnet told AFP that troops had reached the crash site on foot and two choppers, including a US military helicopter, had managed to land in the mountainous region after strong winds had kept them circling the wreckage.

Army helicopters and hundreds of US and Nepalese ground troops had been deployed to scour the mountainous terrain where the US chopper disappeared on the same day that a second major earthquake hit the country.

Before it went missing, there was "some chatter about a fuel problem" on the radio from the helicopter crew, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steven Warren said on Tuesday.

Read more on:    us  |  nepal  |  air crashes

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