KATHMANDU, Nepal — The bodies of all eight people on board the U.S. Marine helicopter that crashed 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 Friday following days of intense searching in the mountains northeast of the 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.
One of the Marines on board was Sgt. Mark Johnson IV, who graduated from Stratford High in Goose Creek in 2003.
Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of the Marine-led joint task force, told reporters in Kathmandu on Friday that his team could not immediately determine the cause of the crash or identify 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 a magnitude-7.3 quake on Tuesday that killed at least 117 people and injured around 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 in the 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.
A total of 300 U.S. military personnel have been supporting the aid mission in Nepal.
On Saturday, Elhadj As Sy, secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross, said an appeal had been made for $93 million to help some 700,000 earthquake survivors over the next two years.
The U.N. General Assembly on Friday called for urgent assistance to help Nepal’s earthquake survivors and to rebuild the impoverished Himalayan nation, urging the international community to support the U.N.’s appeal for $415 million for essential needs over the next three months.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the assembly that it is urgent to get aid to all those in need before the monsoon season starts in June.