Accessibility links

Breaking News

All 8 Bodies in US Helicopter Crash in Nepal Recovered

Nepalese army soldiers prepare to leave for the suspected crash site of a U.S. Marine helicopter. It disappeared earlier this week while on a relief mission in the quake-hit Himalayan nation.

The bodies of all eight people on board a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter that crashed Tuesday have been recovered, Nepal's army said.

Officials on Saturday said teams from the U.S. military and Nepal's army are at the crash scene, investigating what may have caused the aircraft to go down in a rugged, mountainous area.

Neither the cause of the crash nor the identities of the eight people aboard the craft have been disclosed. Lieutenant-General John Wissler confirmed Friday that the helicopter was carrying six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers.

The general, a senior commander of Marines based in Japan, noted the enormous loss of life Nepal has suffered during the past three weeks. On April 25, it endured a magnitude-7.8 earthquake, the Himalayas' strongest in more than 80 years. Then came many aftershocks, including another strong and damaging earthquake this week. More than 8,300 people have died in the quakes.

Charikot Village, Nepal
Charikot Village, Nepal

The Defense Ministry in Kathmandu announced the helicopter went down three days ago in a mountainous area of east-central Nepal and said it was not possible for anyone onboard to have survived.

The American Marine commandant said the site was "in extremely dense forest and exceptionally rugged terrain."

"While we mourn the tragic passing of our service members and [those] of the Nepalese army, we recognize that the Nepalese people have suffered a loss of thousands of their own citizens," Wissler said.

He pledged that U.S. teams now working on relief efforts in Nepal "will continue to stand with Nepal as long as our friends need our help."

Some 300 U.S. military personnel have been supporting the Nepal aid mission, the Associated Press reported.

Obama mourns helicopter crew

In Washington Friday, President Barack Obama mourned the loss of the American helicopter crew, described by their commander as "selfless individuals dedicated to the international humanitarian aid mission."

"Our prayers remain with the families of our Marines and two Nepalese soldiers," said Obama. "...They went to that remote land to help people who suffered devastating losses in a terrible earthquake. They represented truth that guides our work around the world. When our friends are in need, America helps."

The president spoke outside the U.S. Capitol to an annual gathering of police officers from around the country, many of whom have served as "first responders" at disaster scenes.

"Sometimes those in uniform get attention only when there's a battle," Obama said, "but they do so much more than that looking out for folks who are vulnerable or having a tough time ... [after] a disaster. And it can involve great risk and great sacrifice. And we give thanks to all our fellow Americans military and civilian, who reflect the very best of American leadership around the world. The world's better for them."

Investigating crash

U.S. officials they are assessing the details of the crash of the UH-1Y Huey helicopter, which was part of an American task force in Nepal dubbed Operation Sahayogi Haat (Helping Hand).

The joint effort by the military and the U.S. Agency for International Development has already delivered nearly 50 tons of relief supplies, transported 273 personnel and conducted more than 68 hours of flight time throughout Nepal's earthquake-ravaged areas.