Saturday, 6 June 2015

Nepal says civilians were on crashed US copter, toll now 13

A U.S. military helicopter that crashed in Nepal last month on an earthquake relief mission was carrying five more passengers than first thought, raising the death toll to 13, Nepal's army said Friday.

Authorities initially said six U.S. Marines and two Nepalese soldiers were killed.

According to Army Spokesperson Brigadier General Jadish Chandra Pokharel, the confirmation was made after matching the DNA samples of the deceased family with the samples of their family members. The Army had collected the DNA samples of the relatives of the missing locals last week. The search for the five people was started only after they could not be found at any hospital in Kathmandu even 13 days after they were airlifted from the district. “We are preparing to hand over the bodies to the family members,” Pokhrel said. The body of Lieutenant Tapendra Rawal was handed over to his family in Dailekh where his last rites were performed last week. The body of Warrant Officer Basant Bahadur Titara will also been handed over to his family soon, according to the Army. The US Embassy in Nepal said that Nepali and US armies have been coordinating on the identification of the remains of the five civilians who lost their lives in the crash. “We offer heartfelt condolences to all those who lost their lives in this tragic accident,” said Susan Parker-Jones, director of Public Affairs at the Embassy. The UH-1 "Huey" helicopter crashed May 12 in the northeastern mountains, and the wreckage was found after days of intense searching. The first three charred bodies were retrieved by Nepalese and U.S. military teams, and the rest were found a day later.

The U.S. relief mission was deployed after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Nepal on April 25. A magnitude-7.3 quake struck on May 12 and hours later the helicopter crashed.

Four of the Marines were part of the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing based at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, California. Two other Marines were combat cameramen based in Japan.

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

Earlier this week, a private helicopter chartered by Doctors Without Borders crashed after hitting power cables, killing all four people on board. Three victims were Nepalese and the other was a Dutch woman.

The government and aid agencies have used helicopters to carry relief materials to mountainous regions where earthquake damage or the lack of existing roads has made delivery of aid all but impossible.

The two earthquakes have killed more than 8,700 people, injured thousands and destroyed many buildings. Saturday 6 June 2015


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