A UH-1Y Huey with six U.S. Marines and two Nepalese soldiers was declared missing today during disaster relief operations in Nepal.
The helicopter was operating near the city of Charikot in support of Operation Sahayogi Haat, the relief effort after an April 25 7.8-magnitude earthquake, U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) spokesman Army Maj. Dave Eastburn told USNI News.
Nepalese ground forces are in the vicinity of the helicopter’s last known location searching for the aircraft and crew, and U.S. and Nepalese aircraft will begin an aerial search at daybreak, Eastburn added.
PACOM stood up Joint Task Force 505 to respond to the earthquake, and among the Marine assets involved were four MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft and three UH-1 helicopters to transport assessment teams and deliver aid, according to Defense Department and USNI News releases.
Another earthquake, this one 7.3 magnitude, struck today around 12:35 p.m. local Nepal time. The helicopter went missing around 7 p.m. local time.
The following is the full statement from PACOM:
On May 12, at approximately 10 p.m. JST, a UH-1Y Huey with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 in support of Joint Task Force 505 was declared missing while supporting Operation Sahayogi Haat.
The incident occurred near Charikot, Nepal while the aircraft was conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in support of the recent Nepal earthquakes. The aircraft was delivering humanitarian aid to those affected by the recent earthquake and evacuating casualties back to Kathmandu.
There were six U.S. Marines and two Nepalese service members aboard. At this time, the status of those manifested on the flight is unknown.
JTF 505 personnel are responding to the emergency. There are Nepalese military forces on the ground in the vicinity of the last known location, searching for the missing aircraft. U.S. and Nepalese aircraft will begin aerial search procedures at daybreak.