Nepal earthquake: US Marine helicopter reported 'missing' with eight crew and emergency supplies

Chopper was delivering emergency supplies

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The Independent Online

A US Marine Corps helicopter carrying out earthquake relief in Nepal was reported missing on Tuesday with eight personnel on board, officials have said.

"The incident occurred near Charikot, Nepal while the aircraft was conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations," said Major Dave Eastburn, spokesman for US Pacific Command.

Reports said the chopper was carrying six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers.

The Associated Press said that an Indian helicopter heard radio chatter about a possible fuel problem, said Col Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. 

He said the helicopter, carrying tarpaulins and rice, had dropped off supplies and was headed to a second site when contact was lost. He said there was no sign of a crash.

A Nepalese air brigade unit had seen the Huey, so Marines in V-22 Osprey aircraft searched unsuccessfully near its last known location for about 90 minutes, Warren said. Members of the Nepalese army are searching on foot because of darkness, he added. 

Due to the rugged terrain, the helicopter could have landed in an area where the crew was unable to get a beacon or radio signal out, Warren said.

About 300 American personnel are on the ground in Nepal. The cause of the disappearance was not immediately clear and the incident is under investigation, said CNN.