All eight bodies aboard a vanished U.S. Marine helicopter were recovered Saturday morning, in an area 11,200 feet high on a rough and remote Nepalese mountainside. The recovery efforts for the servicemen began on Saturday morning in Nepal, after the wreckage of the chopper was identified Friday north of Charikot, which is about 80 miles west of Kathmandu.
The U.S. Marine rescue chopper, which came from Camp Pendleton, California, was on a relief mission following April 25 and May 12 earthquakes in Nepal when it was reported missing hours after second tremor.
"Together we mourn as our nation and the Federal Republic of Nepal have lost eight courageous men," Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families."
The U.S. and Nepalese service members "were determined to go forward with their duties, eager to contribute to our mission to alleviate suffering and come to the rescue of those in need," U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. John E. Wissler said in a press conference Friday.
Of the eight bodies found, two were Nepalese Army personnel and six were U.S. Marines. The cause of the helicopter crash has not yet been determined but the investigation is continuing.
A new helicopter arrived in Nepal on May 16 to replace one of the two remaining helicopters providing humanitarian aid after both earthquakes struck the region. A second helicopter is expected to arrive on May 17.
"The United States Military will remain committed to our mission here in Nepal," Wissler added, reinforcing the U.S.'s commitment to relief efforts in devastated country.