Helicopter on quake relief mission crashes in Nepal

A small helicopter on an earthquake relief mission crashed in high mountains in northeast Nepal on Tuesday, killing at least four people, the army said.

The aircraft, operated by private company Mountain Air, crashed in the district of Sindhupalchowk, about 60 km (38 miles) northeast of Kathmandu. Sindhupalchowk, which borders Tibet, was one of the regions worst hit by the April 25 and May 12 earthquakes that killed 8,700 people.

A massive international relief and rescue operation was carried out for the victims of the disaster.

"We have recovered four bodies from the crash site," said Brigadier General Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, spokesman for the Nepali army. Some media reports said the chopper hit electric power lines before it crashed, but Pokharel said the cause of the crash was unclear.

Six American and two Nepali soldiers were killed when a US Marines UH-1Y Huey helicopter, also on a relief mission in the neighbouring district of Dolakha, crashed in dense mountain forests on the day of the second big earthquake.

Authorities have found DNA evidence at the crash site indicating that five more people may have been on board the US helicopter when it came down, a US military spokesman has said.