Authorities have found DNA evidence that five more people may have been on board a US military helicopter that crashed during a humanitarian relief mission after the Nepal earthquake, a US military spokesman said.
Investigators were exploring the possibility that the five new suspected victims of the crash were villagers picked up by the helicopter during its relief mission, a Nepali army spokesman said.
The helicopter and its crew were part of the large international aid effort after a massive earthquake and major aftershock struck Nepal on 25 April and 12 May, killing more than 8,600 people and making hundreds of thousands homeless.
Six US Marines and two Nepali soldiers are known to have died in the crash, the cause of which has yet to be determined.
“While no positive identification has yet been made, there is DNA evidence of five individuals in addition to the six US Marines and two Nepalese soldiers who have already been identified,” said Lt. Col. Rob James, a public affairs officer for the U.S. Marines, in a statement to Reuters.
The Nepal Army said the new remains were found on 25 May, 10 days after the bodies of the soldiers were found among the wreckage of a US Marine Corps UH-1Y helicopter that went down in the mountains northeast of the capital Kathmandu.
Earlier this week, Nepalese media reported that five people from devastated villages in Dolakha district had gone missing after boarding an unidentified aid helicopter.
A team of US and Nepalese medical and forensic experts are performing DNA tests on the remains to identify all of the victims in tandem with the joint investigation by both militaries into the crash.