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Wreckage of missing US helicopter found in Nepal, 'no chance' of survivors

Authorities in Nepal have found the wreckage of a US helicopter that went missing while delivering aid to earthquake-hit communities. It's feared all eight people on board died when the chopper crashed in rugged terrain.

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Some 300 US military personnel are part of the aid mission in Nepal, including three Hueys (pictured), and other aircraft

Ground troops found three bodies near a charred military helicopter on a remote mountainside in eastern Nepal, the country's defense secretary said Friday.

"The search for others is continuing. As the helicopter has broken into pieces and totally crashed there is no chance of any survivors," Defense Secretary Ishwori Prasad Paudyal said. The helicopter was carrying six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers.

A separate team sent by the US Marines confirmed the wreckage was indeed the missing helicopter - a UH-1Y Huey.

US army General John Wissler told a press conference in Kathmandu the military was yet to determine the cause of the accident and was working to identify those killed. A recovery team is expected to return to the site first thing on Saturday to continue going through the wreckage.

The US chopper disappeared on Tuesday while making an aid delivery in the eastern Dolakha region. The crew had reportedly sent a radio message saying the aircraft was experiencing a fuel problem before losing contact.

Dangerous relief mission

Following an extensive search, the helicopter was spotted from the air Friday on a steep slope near the village of Gothali, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of the capital, Kathmandu.

The US relief mission had been dispatched soon after the magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Nepal on April 25,

killing more than 8,000 people.

Less than three weeks later,

a second quake struck

, killing more than 114 people. The US helicopter had been delivering rice and tarpaulins to hard-hit Charikot when it disappeared.

Following the earthquakes, Nepal's government issued a plea for foreign countries to send more helicopters to help deliver aid to communities

grappling with shortages

of food, water, shelter and medical supplies. Outside Kathmandu, landslides and rock falls have blocked several main roads, making it difficult for relief workers to access more remote areas.

nm/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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