Nepali Families Demand Compensation for US Helicopter Crash Victims

The relatives of five Nepalese civilians killed in a US military helicopter crash during an earthquake relief mission in May also said that they waited weeks for confirmation of their deaths.

by VICE News
Jun 8 2015, 1:15pm

Photo by Narendra Shresta/EPA

The grieving relatives of five Nepalese civilians killed in a US military helicopter crash during an earthquake relief mission in May demanded compensation on Monday, and said they had waited weeks to get news of the deaths of their relatives.

"We are demanding the US provide money as compensation or insurance to the families of those killed in the helicopter crash," stated Purna Bahadur Khatri whose brother Shiva was killed in the crash.

"It took weeks for the authorities to even admit that our missing family members were killed in the crash. We have not had any contract from the US government or our government or if we are going to get compensation," Khatri added.

Initially, American authorities had stated that six US Marines and two Nepalese soldiers were on the UH-1 "Huey" chopper that crashed on May 12 in the mountains of northeastern Nepal.

Related: Earthquake in Nepal (Dispatch 1) 

However, according to the Nepalese army, since the discovery of the wreckage, DNA tests and further investigation by Nepalese and US authorities have revealed that five local villagers where also aboard the helicopter.

Amir Katwal, whose father was killed in the crash, said he put his father into the helicopter, which appeared to be overloaded.

"Two soldiers got off and loaded the people, and they all got inside the helicopter that had no seats and was crowded. I was just happy that my wounded father was going to a hospital," said Katwal.

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, hours before the helicopter crashed.

Four of the Marines killed were part of the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing based at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, California. A further two Marines were killed, both where combat cameramen based in Japan.

The cause of the crash has not been determined. The two earthquakes that struck Nepal have killed more than 8,700 people and injured thousands.

Related: Videos Emerge of Climbers Fleeing Mount Everest Avalanche After Nepal Quake 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.