KATHMANDU, Nepal -- Nepalese rescuers yesterday found three bodies near the wreckage of a U.S. Marine helicopter that disappeared this week during a relief mission in the earthquake-hit Himalayan nation, and officials said it was unlikely there were any survivors from the crash.
"The wreckage of the helicopter was found in pieces, and there are no chances of any survivors," Nepal's defense secretary, Iswori Poudyal, said. He did not give the nationalities of the three victims, only saying their remains were charred.
The helicopter was carrying six Marines and two Nepalese army soldiers.
A separate team sent by the U.S. Marines said they identified the wreckage as the missing helicopter, the UH-1 "Huey." Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of the Marine-led joint task force, told reporters in Kathmandu.
He said extreme weather and difficult terrain hampered his team's efforts to work at the crash site.
"Due to the extremely difficult terrain of the site of the mishap, below-freezing temperatures and violent winds and thunderstorms, I made the decision to cease the recovery efforts for this evening," he said. The recovery mission will resume at first light today.
Speaking in Washington, President Barack Obama expressed condolences to the families of all the victims and said the Marines "represent a truth that guides our work around the world: When our friends are in need, America helps."
The wreckage was found about 15 miles from the town of Charikot, near where the aircraft went missing on Tuesday while delivering humanitarian aid to villages hit by two deadly earthquakes, according to the U.S. military joint task force in Okinawa, Japan. -- AP