Charikot Village, Nepal
Charikot Village, Nepal

The U.S. military continued searching Wednesday for a Marine Corps helicopter that disappeared in Nepal while taking part in earthquake relief operations.

A spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command said the helicopter went missing late Tuesday near Charikot village in one of the areas hit the hardest by Tuesday's magnitude 7.3 quake.

Hundreds of Nepali troops are participating in the search, along with aircraft from both the U.S. and Nepal.

A Nepal Home Ministry official expressed fear the search was diverting resources from quake relief and rescue work.

A Defense Department official said eight people were onboard the aircraft, including six U.S. Marines and two Nepalese civilians. He said there was no evidence yet that the helicopter has crashed.

Officials described the surrounding terrain as "rugged and mountainous," adding that if it landed in a valley it might not be able to radio its location.

The aircraft, a UH-1Y Huey, was part of a task force supporting Operation Sahayogi Haat (Helping Hand).

The operation, a joint effort between the military and the U.S. Agency for International Development, has delivered nearly 50 tons of relief supplies, transported 273 personnel and has conducted more than 68 hours of flight time throughout the quake areas in Nepal.

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