Marine Helicopter Recovery Efforts in Nepal Suspended Until Morning

The helicopter was carrying eight people.

ByABC News
May 15, 2015, 12:27 PM

— -- The U.S. military task force in Nepal has suspended recovery efforts at the site of a downed U.S. Marine helicopter, after wreckage discovered in dense forest north of Charikot was identified as the missing aircraft.

"Because of the nature of the wreckage, it's unlikely there are any survivors at this time," Marine Lt. Gen. John Wissler, the commander of Joint Task Force 505, said at a news conference.

There has been no indication as to a potential cause for the crash, a U.S. official said.

Search teams have visually located two bodies so far, a Pentagon official said, but were forced to abandon the crash site, citing high-altitude terrain and below-freezing temperatures.

The UH-1 Huey helicopter was carrying six U.S. Marines and two Nepalese service members when it went missing Tuesday hours after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck the country.

“The wreckage was found at approximately 11,000 feet in extremely dense forest and exceptionally rugged terrain,” Wissler said.

Recovery efforts will resume at first light, according to U.S. officials.

U.S. Air Force pararescuemen and a combat rescue officer who arrived at the wreckage site confirmed that the wreckage spotted by the Nepalese military was the missing helicopter, according to a statement from Joint Task Force 505.

"The wreckage of the helicopter was found in pieces and there are no chances of any survivors," said Nepal's defense secretary, Iswori Poudyal.

The helicopter had been delivering humanitarian aid in Charikot, an area 50 miles east of Nepal's capital of Kathmandu, close to the epicenter of Tuesday's large earthquake.

The mountainous terrain in the region was a major obstacle for search crews.

After the helicopter was reported missing, U.S. Marine aircraft and hundreds of Nepalese ground troops had searched for the missing helicopter.

President Obama this morning offered condolences to the families of the Marines and Nepalese soldiers who were on board the helicopter.

"They went to that remote land to help people who suffered devastating losses in the terrible earthquake," Obama said. "They represent a truth that guides our work around the world: When our friends are in need America helps. Sometimes those in uniform get attention only when there is a battle, but they do so much more than that, looking out for folks who are vulnerable, or having a tough time if [they've] experienced a disaster, and it can involve great risk and great sacrifice. ... The world is better for them."

ABC News' Dan Good contributed to this report.