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Civilians died in earthquake crash

Published 05/06/2015

A huge aid operation was launched after the earthquake in Nepal
A huge aid operation was launched after the earthquake in Nepal

Five civilians were on the US military helicopter that crashed while helping in earthquake-hit areas of Nepal last month, raising the death toll to 13, the Nepalese army said.

Authorities initially said six US Marines and two Nepalese soldiers were killed when the UH-1 "Huey" helicopter crashed on May 12 in the north-eastern mountains.

The new army statement said DNA tests and investigations revealed that five local villagers - reportedly injured people being transported to a medical facility - were also on the aircraft.

The US relief mission was deployed after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Nepal on April 25. A magnitude-7.3 quake struck on May 12 and hours later the helicopter crashed.

Four of the marines were part of the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing based at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, California. Two other Marines were combat cameramen based in Japan.

The cause of the crash has not been determined. US military officials have said an Indian helicopter in the air nearby heard radio chatter from the Huey about a possible fuel problem.

Earlier this week, a private helicopter chartered by Doctors Without Borders crashed after hitting power cables, killing all four people on board. Three were Nepalese and the other was a Dutch woman.

The government and aid agencies have used helicopters to carry relief materials to mountainous regions where earthquake damage or the lack of existing roads has made delivery of aid all but impossible.

The two earthquakes killed more than 8,700 people, injured thousands and destroyed many buildings.

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