By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, May 15, 2015 – Harsh weather conditions and darkness are hampering efforts in Nepal to recover the Marine Corps UH-1Y helicopter and its crew that went missing May 12.
Officials confirmed yesterday that the helicopter had crashed, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters today.
The helicopter reportedly carried six U.S. Marines and two Nepalese service members who were performing humanitarian efforts as part of “Operation Sahayogi Haat,” which means “Helping Hand” in Nepali.
“The terrain and the weather are exceptionally difficult,” Warren said. “At first light and [as] the weather clears, they’ll return to the crash site.”
The Marines on the helicopter are assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469.
Warren said no remains have been recovered as of several hours ago, although two sets of remains have been “visually” identified.
“The families [were] notified their loved ones were aboard the helicopter,” the colonel said, adding that family members are in touch with casualty assistance officers who will keep them continually updated.
In accordance with normal procedure, Warren said, 24 hours after remains are identified and family members are notified the names of the deceased will be made available.
The incident is under investigation, the colonel said. The Himalayan crash site, he said, is located about 8 miles north of Charikot, Nepal, at an elevation of more than 11,000 feet. High winds and harsh temperatures could have been factors in the crash, he said.
Earlier reports of radio chatter from the aircraft prior to the crash have not been confirmed, Warren said.
“We will just have to let this [investigation] develop,” he said.