A helicopter from the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 seems to have lost control while delivering aid to the earthquake victims in Nepal, and was officially declared missing on Tuesday after losing radio contact with units on the ground. Search and rescue effort has found no sign of the missing aircraft and its crew of six U.S. Marines and two Nepalese soldiers, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.
The Huey helicopter was carrying six U.S. Marines and two Nepalese soldiers when it disappeared Tuesday during a mission in a remote mountainous region in Nepal, a defense official said.
“The search continues,” Army Col. Steve Warren, a Defense Department spokesman, revealed in a press conference at the Pentagon Wednesday morning.
“There are a lot of reports floating around, none are attributed to anyone and most have been investigated by DoD and determined to be fake,” Army Maj. David Eastburn,a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command stated in his email to Military Times on Wednesday.
Search and Rescue efforts are ongoing, with two UH-1Y Hueys leaving Kathmandu with Air Force Pararescue and Marines onboard. At least one of the Hueys was fitted with a rescue winch in case the helicopter cannot find a landing site.
“Once the pair of Hueys completed their initial search, they returned to Kathmandu where two MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft took off and continued the efforts,” Eastburn said. “This pattern will continue all day.”
Efforts were halted after sundown in Nepal, Wednesday, as the aircraft flew a total of nine sorties over the location without successfully locating the missing chopper, and will resume at daybreak.
Reports are saying that there is no indications that the helicopter crashed.
“The incident occurred near Charikot, Nepal, while the aircraft was conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in support of the recent Nepal earthquakes,” Army Maj. David Eastburn, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command stated. He said the helicopter had evacuated injured people back to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.
A small contingent of U.S. Marines are participating in the relief efforts, after the massive earthquake rocked the Nepalese region less than three weeks ago killing more than 8,000 people. Another earthquake hit the region on Tuesday, and officials are now assessing those areas for damages. There are approximately 300 U.S. military personnel participating in the humanitarian efforts.