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Camp Pendleton Helicopter Remains Missing In Nepal

Nepalese military service members unload supplies from a UH-1Y Huey in Charikot, Nepal, May 5, 2015.
Nepalese military service members unload supplies from a UH-1Y Huey in Charikot, Nepal, May 5, 2015.

Reports that it may have been spotted were unfounded

The search continued Wednesday for the crew of a Camp Pendleton-based helicopter that disappeared while carrying out humanitarian duties in earthquake-stricken Nepal.

The chopper, which belongs to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, went missing hours after a magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck midway between Kathmandu and Mount Everest on Tuesday.

An earlier report indicating the helicopter may have been spotted in the rugged, mountainous Tamakoshi region north of the capital of Kathmandu was unfounded, The Military Times reported.

The UH-1Y Huey, with six U.S. Marines and two Nepalese soldiers on board, disappeared over the town of Charikot, according to U.S. Army Maj. Dave Eastburn, spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command. The crew was carrying out a humanitarian mission called "Operation Sahayogi Haat" at the time.

Two additional UH-1Y Huey helicopters and two MV-22B Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft were searching for the missing helicopter, according to a statement from Joint Task Force 505, which is overseeing the U.S. contributions to the relief operation. A battalion-sized Nepalese ground force was assisting in the effort.

One of the missing crewmen has been identified by a NBC affiliate as Eric Seaman of Murrieta. Also aboard was Sgt. Juan J. Alcarez of Yucca Valley, according to Defense Video and Imagery Distribution, a private company specializing in public relations for U.S. military units deployed overseas.

Sgt. James Hibler of Arlington, Texas was initially believed to have been among the missing Marines, but has since contacted family members via Facebook to say he was not aboard the helicopter.

Monday's magnitude-7.3 earthquake followed the magnitude-7.8 quake of April 25, which is reported to have killed more than 8,000 people.