Missing U.S. Marine helicopter wreckage found, bodies also located

Posted at 4:39 AM, May 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-15 04:55:58-04

KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) — Three bodies have been found with the wreckage of what’s thought to be a missing U.S. Marine helicopter, Nepal’s Defense Secretary Ishwori Paudyal said Friday.

The helicopter wreckage was found in a burned condition, Paudyal told CNN.

The news came only hours after a local army official said the wreckage of the helicopter — missing since Tuesday with six U.S. marines and two Nepali service members on board — had been found on the steep slopes of a mountain east of Kathmandu.

The American chopper was spotted in the Gorthali area, at an altitude of 11,200 feet, according to Brig. Gen. Binoj Basnet.

The U.S. Joint Task Force confirmed the sighting of possible aircraft wreckage near Charikot. It has not yet commented on the reported discovery of bodies.

Pararescue teams and a combat rescue officer are trying to determine if this is the helicopter which went missing on Tuesday, it said.

The UH-1Y Huey helicopter lost contact Tuesday evening as it helped with relief efforts in the earthquake-ravaged nation, Pentagon officials said.

Radio transmissions indicated its crew was having some type of fuel problem before it went missing near Charikot, roughly 45 miles east of the capital of Kathmandu.

The helicopter was delivering humanitarian aid in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck the nation on April 25, killing thousands of people. Another strong earthquake hit Nepal on Tuesday afternoon, causing more damage and casualties.

The area where it lost contact is near the epicenter of Tuesday’s magnitude 7.3 earthquake.

About 300 American personnel are on the ground in Nepal helping with earthquake relief efforts.