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Marine Corps Helicopter Helping With Relief Effort In Nepal Still Missing

A Marine Corps helicopter helping with earthquake relief efforts in Nepal has been declared missing, but a Defense Department official said that so far there has been no indication it crashed.

U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren said an Indian helicopter nearby heard radio chatter from the Marine aircraft about a possible fuel problem. NPR's Tom Bowman says the U.S. cannot confirm the Indian account.

Warren said the chopper, which was carrying six Marines and two Nepali army soldiers, had dropped off supplies, including tarps and rice, in one location and was heading to another when contact was lost.

The UH-1 Huey was conducting an operation near Charikot, Nepal, on Tuesday about 9 a.m. local time. Marines in a V-22 Osprey searched near the last known location for about 90 minutes.

Warren said the helicopter may have landed in a low area and may be unable to get a beacon or radio signal out.

Updated at 8:15 p.m. ET

NPR's Julie McCarthy reports that a new quake, this one 7.3, struck Tuesday and was centered close to Mount Everest, near where the Marine helicopter went missing.

With daylight returning, U.S. aircraft are resuming their search for the chopper, joining Nepali forces who have been searching at ground level.

Thousands of people spent another night sleeping outdoors after the Tuesday earthquake toppled more buildings and further rattled the capital, Kathmandu.

Julie says rescue teams from Fairfax, Va., and Los Angeles continue to work in the region. The LA team had been about to leave when the latest shock waves struck but was delayed by technical problems with its chartered plane. The team returned from the airport and rejoined the mission.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.