A recovery mission will resume at daylight in Nepal at the spot where the wreckage of a U.S. Marine helicopter was found. It disappeared this week during a relief mission in the country hit by two major quakes in the past three weeks.
Six Marines and two soldiers from Nepal were on board. Officials say three bodies were found, and that there’s little likelihood that anyone survived. Authorities aren’t identifying them yet. Among those on board, Sgt. Ward M. Johnson. Johnson’s family and friends are not ready to talk to the media. Sources close to the family say they’re at Camp Pendleton in California, waiting for reports on the Stratford High grad’s fate.
Nepal’s defense secretary says the wreckage “was found in pieces.” A separate team sent by the U.S. Marines identified the wreckage as the missing helicopter.
The commander of a joint task force led by the Marines says it was a ‘very severe crash.” He says extreme weather and difficult terrain are hampering efforts to work at the crash site.
The U.S. relief mission was deployed soon after a magnitude-7.8 quake hit April 25, killing more than 8,200 people. It was followed by a magnitude-7.3 quake on Tuesday that killed 117 people and injured 2,800.
The U.N. General Assembly today called for urgent assistance to help earthquake survivors and to rebuild Nepal. The U.N. wants $415 million to be contributed for essential needs in Nepal over the next three months.
Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command Navy Adm. Samuel Jones Locklear III, released this statement about the helicopter crash in Nepal:
“Together we mourn as our nation and the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal have lost eight courageous men who put the needs of others ahead of their own. These men were professionals, committed to the mission, and it is their dedication and sacrifice that helps define both our militaries. Days like today are some of the hardest we face as service members and frankly, as human beings. As a commander, I never want to see this kind of tragic loss, but it serves as a reminder that I am fortunate enough to be allowed to serve along-side the best and brightest the United States of America and our partner nations have to offer. These men served their countries proudly as Nepalese Soldiers and United States Marines. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, and our priority right now is to take care of these families and to ensure they have all the support they need during this critical time. Even during this time of loss, I know those we mourn today would expect us to continue on with the mission in Nepal and continue working with our Nepalese partners to help take care of the people of Nepal just as they were doing when this tragic event occurred. And we will do just that. Semper Fi”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.