Nepal earthquake: US helicopter carrying eight 'may have gone down in river' as it delivered aid

Hundreds of Nepali troops are searching for the aircraft which disappeared after a second 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit the country

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Officials fear a US helicopter carrying six Marines and two Nepalese Army soldiers may have crashed in a river after Nepal was hit by a second earthquake on Tuesday.

The military helicopter transporting emergency aid went missing near Charikot as it carried out disaster relief following the 7.3 magnitude earthquake.

The Marine Corps UH-1Y Huey helicopter lost radio contact after its crew was heard talking about fuel problems and hundreds are now involved in the search for the aircraft. No distress signal was sent out before the helicopter vanished.

A Nepali military official said fears were growing that the helicopter went down in one of the rivers going through valleys in the district of Dolakha east of the capital, Kathmandu.

Major Rajan Dahal, second-in-command of the Barda Bahadur Batallion, told Reuters: "The info we have is that it is down in one of the rivers, but none of the choppers has seen it yet.”

“There are 400-plus of our ground troops looking for it also. By this evening, we might get it."

A tweet from Nepal’s National Emergency Operation Centre appeared to suggest communications had been lost with the helicopter due to fog.

A US defence official told NBC News the helicopter was equipped with a GPS device, a radio, a satellite phone and an emergency beacon on board.

Officials walked through Chautara, the town battered by the second earthquake, with bullhorns on Wednesday and shouted for people to evacuate damaged buildings. Tuesday’s quake killed 65 people and hit just weeks after the country was devastated by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

The 25 April quake killed more than 8,150 people and flattened entire villages, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless in the country's worst-recorded quake since 1934.

The epicentre of the second quake, near the base camp for Mount Everest, was less than 100 miles away from that of its predecessor.

Additional reporting by agencies