American and Nepalese forces are still searching for a missing Marine Corps UH-1Y helicopter with six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers onboard.
The helicopter was declared missing on Tuesday while on a mission to deliver humanitarian aide to earthquake victims about 85 miles east of the capital Kathmandu. The Marines onboard were part of Joint Task Force 505, set up after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit on April 25.
U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) spokesman Army Maj. Dave Eastburn said in a statement that two additional Hueys and two MV-22 Ospreys were participating in the search effort, along with a battalion-sized Nepalese ground force. Each Huey carried a Nepalese soldier, two U.S. Air Force pararescuemen and several Marines, he said, and additional Osprey crews are on standby.
Eastburn said told USNI News that, contrary to some reports, the helicopter had still not been located despite ground crews searching last night and aircraft searching since daybreak.
The missing Huey had been delivering aid and evacuating casualties from the spate of earthquakes that have shaken the region since late April. A 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit on Tuesday near Mount Everest, and the Marines were operating in Charikot, about halfway between the earthquake’s epicenter and Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.
The following is the full statement from PACOM spokesman Maj. Dave Eastburn:
Rigorous aerial searching resumed early this morning with two UH-1 Huey helicopters departing from Kathmandu, each carrying one Nepalese soldier, two USAF pararescuemen and several Marines.
Also, one Huey was fitted with hoist prior to departure enabling the aircraft to reach locations where the terrain prohibits landing.
Once the pair of Hueys completed their search, they returned to Kathmandu where two MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft took off and continued the efforts. This pattern will continue all day.
JTF-505 has multiple aircrews available to ensure they can maximize the time in the air searching for the missing Huey.
We remain optimistic in our efforts.