KATHMANDU, Nepal, May 16 (UPI) -- Eight bodies have now been recovered in the wreckage of a downed U.S. Marine Corps Huey helicopter that had been delivering aid in earthquake-ravaged Nepal, the country's military said.
The Huey, found in a rugged, mountainous area, was carrying six Marines and two Nepalese army soldiers. All of the Marines were based at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, Calif. It is unclear why the helicopter from the Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 went down. The squadron was in the Philippines on a training mission when it was redirected to Nepal as part of the relief efforts.
U.S. officials have not released the names of the Marines involved in the crash, but family members have been coming forward. Family identified the pilot as Capt. Chris Norgren, 31, from Wichita, Kan. Norgren's parents said he joined the Marines to become a pilot.
"They haven't confirmed that his body is there, and I don't want to believe it is. I will never give up on my son. He will always be my first born and my love and I am so proud of him. He has made me and his father so proud. He served God and always put other people first. I would ask that people continue to pray for our family," his mother said.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said, "our hearts are heavy with grief."
"This tragedy is a reminder of the vital but dangerous role that American service members play in delivering humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Our mission continues in Nepal, and we remain dedicated to answering the call when disaster strikes, both in the Asia-Pacific and around the world," Carter said.
The helicopter lost contact Tuesday night as it helped with relief efforts after the devastating April 25 earthquake that killed thousands. Radio transmissions indicate it was having fuel problems before it went missing near Charikot, about 45 miles east of Kathmandu. The death toll from the earthquake stands at 8,460.