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May 16, 2015 3:40 AM

Nepal army: All 8 bodies found at crashed US Marine chopper

The Associated Press

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) The bodies of all eight people on board the U.S. Marine helicopter that crashed this week during a relief mission in earthquake-hit Nepal have been recovered, Nepal's army said Saturday.

The wreckage of the UH-1 "Huey" was found on Friday following days of intense search in the mountains northeast of capital Kathmandu. The first three charred bodies were retrieved the same day by Nepalese and U.S. military teams. The Nepalese army said in a statement Saturday that the remaining five were also recovered.

The aircraft, with six Marines and two Nepali soldiers on board, went missing while delivering aid on Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of the Marine-led joint task force, told reporters in Kathmandu on Friday that his team could not immediately identify the cause of the crash or the bodies found.

He described the crash as "severe," and said the recovery team at the site encountered extreme weather and difficult terrain.

The wreckage was located about 24 kilometers (15 miles) from the town of Charikot, near where the aircraft went missing while delivering humanitarian aid to villages hit by two deadly earthquakes.

The area is near Gothali village in the district of Dolakha, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Kathmandu.

The U.S. relief mission was deployed soon after a magnitude-7.8 quake hit April 25, killing more than 8,200 people. It was followed by another magnitude-7.3 quake on Tuesday that killed 117 people and injured 2,800.

The helicopter had been delivering rice and tarps in Charikot, the area worst hit by Tuesday's quake. It had dropped off supplies in one location and was en route to a second site when contact was lost.

U.S. military officials said earlier this week that an Indian helicopter in the air nearby had heard radio chatter from the Huey aircraft about a possible fuel problem.

The father of the 31-year-old pilot, Capt. Chris Norgren, said in Wichita, Kansas, that Marine officials had notified the family that the wreckage was found but haven't confirmed the identities of any bodies.

Ronald Norgren said Friday that "it doesn't look good."

A total of 300 U.S. military personnel have been supporting the aid mission in Nepal, which includes three Hueys, four Marine MV-22B Ospreys, two KC-130 Hercules and four Air Force C-17 Globemaster heavy-lift aircraft.


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