Monday 19 March 2018

Helicopter crash victims identified

Lt Gen John E Wissler speaks in Kathmandu, Nepal (AP)
Lt Gen John E Wissler speaks in Kathmandu, Nepal (AP)

The bodies of six US marines and two Nepalese soldiers who were aboard a marine helicopter that crashed during a relief mission in earthquake-hit Nepal have been identified.

The wreckage of the UH-1 "Huey" was found on Friday following days of intense searching in the mountains north east of Kathmandu, Nepal's capital. The first three charred bodies were retrieved on Friday by Nepalese and US military teams and the rest were found on Saturday.

The US marines who were killed were: Capt Dustin R Lukasiewicz, from Nebraska; Capt Christopher L Norgren, from Kansas; Sgt Ward M Johnson IV, from Florida; Sgt Eric M Seaman, from California; Cpl Sara A Medina, from Illinois; and L/Cpl Jacob A Hug, from Arizona, according to a statement from the US military joint task force in Okinawa, Japan.

Nepal's army identified its soldiers as Tapendra Rawal and Basanta Titara.

All eight bodies have been flown to Kathmandu, it said in a statement.

The US relief mission was deployed soon after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, killing more than 8,200 people. A magnitude-7.3 quake struck the country on Tuesday, killing at least 117 people and injuring about 2,800.

The second quake was centred between Kathmandu and Mount Everest, and hit hardest in deeply rural parts of the Himalayan foothills, hammering many villages reached only by hiking trails and causing road-blocking landslides.

The helicopter went missing on Tuesday while delivering rice and plastic sheets in Charikot, the area worst hit by that day's quake. It had dropped off supplies in one location and was en route to a second site when contact was lost.

The cause of the crash has not been determined. US military officials have said that an Indian helicopter in the air nearby heard radio chatter from the Huey aircraft about a possible fuel problem.

Press Association

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