A team of Nepalese rescuers found the wreck of a U.S. Marine helicopter Friday after a three-day search. The helicopter, carrying six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers, was delivering humanitarian aid to villages hit by an earthquake that devastated the country on April 25.
“The wreckage of the helicopter was found in pieces, and there are no chances of any survivors,” Iswori Poudyal, Nepal’s defense secretary, told the AP. Three bodies were found on the mountainside near the downed chopper, but Poudyal didn’t give their nationalities, saying their remains were charred. The other five remain unaccounted for.
A U.S. Marine team verified the helicopter as the missing UH-1Y “Huey,” and Lieutenant General John Wissler echoed Poudyal’s statements. “It was a very severe crash, and based on what we saw in the condition of the aircraft, we believe there were no survivors,” he told the AP.
The helicopter had delivered rice and tarps to the town of Charikot, about 50 miles northeast of Kathmandu, and was on its way to a second location when contact was lost. According to the AP, U.S. military officials said an Indian helicopter in the air at the time heard over the radio from the crew of the Huey that it had a possible fuel problem.
Wissler, who’s commanding the Marine-led joint task force, called off the recovery mission for Friday, citing the treacherous terrain of the crash site, freezing temperatures, violent winds, and thunderstorms. Recovery is scheduled to resume at dawn Saturday.
Although the military hasn’t identified the bodies, it has notified the families of those on board that the wreck was found. Ronald Norgren, father of the 31-year-old pilot Chris Norgren, told the AP that “it doesn’t look good.”