Nepal rescue chopper wreck on mountain

2015-05-15 20:09
(AFP photo / handout / US Marine Corps Lance CPL. Mandaline Hatch)

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

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kathmandu - The wreckage of a US military helicopter lost on an earthquake relief mission in Nepal was found on Friday high on a mountainside, with all eight on board presumed dead, US officials said.

A US search team identified the wreckage as that of the missing Marines UH-1Y Huey helicopter deployed after the Himalayan state was hit by a massive earthquake last month that killed more than 8 000 people.

Crash debris was found 13km north of the town of Charikot near dense forest and rugged terrain

"It was a very severe crash. We believe there were no survivors," said John Wissler, lieutenant general of the US Marines.

The Huey went missing while it was distributing aid on Tuesday, the day a strong aftershock hit Nepal and killed more than 100 people.

Six Marines and two Nepali soldiers were on board when it went missing, after the crew was heard over the radio saying the aircraft was experiencing a fuel problem.

The Huey, an iconic helicopter dating back to the Vietnam War era, was completely destroyed, Nepal's top defence ministry official said.

"As the helicopter has broken into pieces and totally crashed there is no chance of any survivors," Nepal's defence secretary Ishwori Prasad Paudyal said earlier on Friday.

After a three-day search the Huey was spotted near the village of Ghorthali at an altitude of 3 400m, an army general told Reuters earlier, as helicopters and Nepali ground troops converged on the crash site.

"It was found on a steep slope," Major General Binoj Basnet said. US and Nepali teams investigated the site on Friday in an attempt to determine the cause of the crash.

Lush forest

On Saturday, US and Nepalese aircraft plan to get their rescue team back up to the site to collect the bodies and begin identification of the charred remains.

The area's tallest peak soars to more than 7 000m. Hillsides are cloaked with lush forest that made it hard to find the chopper even though it came down just a few miles from Charikot, the capital of Dolakha district that lies half a day's drive to the east of Kathmandu.

An army base in the town has been serving as a hub for operations to airlift and treat those injured in the two earthquakes, and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala flew in on Thursday for an on-the-spot briefing.

The first quake, which struck on April 25 with a magnitude of 7.8, has killed 8 199 people. The death toll from a 7.3 aftershock on Tuesday has reached 117, with many victims in Dolakha.

The combined toll is approaching the number of just over 8 500 who died in an earthquake in 1934, the worst natural disaster on record to hit Nepal.

Some 76 000 more have been injured, while hundreds of thousands of buildings, including ancient temples and monuments, have been damaged or destroyed. Nearly three weeks after the first quake, aftershocks continue to rattle the country.

Nepal mobilised 600 soldiers to search for the missing Huey.

Two more US Hueys, two MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor planes and Nepali and Indian choppers had been involved in the search for the helicopter, which was part of a joint task force sent in by the United States to provide assistance at Nepal's request.

US officials said the crash would not affect ongoing relief operations.

"We will continue to stand by Nepal as long as they need our help," Wissler told reporters.

Read more on:    us  |  nepal  |  air crashes

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.