Survivors ‘unlikely’ in Nepal chopper crash: US military
The US military said Friday it expected to find no survivors after locating the wreckage of a helicopter that went missing with eight people on board in earthquake-devastated Nepal.
“I can confirm that we have located the wreckage… it is unlikely there are any survivors,” said John Wissler, commander of the joint task force investigating the disappearance, three days after the chopper vanished while delivering aid in a mountainous region.
“It was a severe crash,” said Wissler.
The crashed aircraft was spotted in a remote forest around 70 kilometres (40 miles) northeast of Kathmandu, according to Nepalese army official Major General Binoj Basnet.
Basnet told AFP troops had reached the crash site on foot and two choppers, including a US military helicopter, and managed to land in the mountainous region after strong winds had kept them circling the wreckage.
Nepal’s Defence Secretary Ishwori Paudel earlier told AFP that three charred bodies had been discovered in the wreckage, but US military officials said they could not confirm the findings.
“We have not been able to positively identify any remains at the site,” Wissler told reporters in Kathmandu, adding that recovery operations would resume Saturday.
“At this time I am not able to positively identify the cause of the mishap.”
Army helicopters and hundreds of US and Nepalese ground troops had been deployed to scour the mountainous terrain where the US chopper disappeared on the same day that a second major earthquake hit the country.
The US military said earlier that the UH-1Y Huey was carrying six US Marines and two Nepalese army soldiers when it went missing during a relief flight in the mountainous east of the country.
Relief teams from around the world have been working for weeks to provide water, food, shelter and medical assistance to Nepal after the first, 7.8-magnitude quake hit on April 25.
Nearly 8,500 people have now been confirmed dead in the disaster, which destroyed more than half a million homes and left huge numbers of people without shelter with just weeks to go until the monsoon rains.