A U.S. Marine Corps helicopter providing assistance in the wake of the Nepal earthquake is missing and NBC 7 has learned the crew may be part of a squadron based at Camp Pendleton.
The UH-1Y Huey was conducting disaster relief operations near Charikot, Nepal, on Tuesday around 9:15 a.m PT.
The Huey had dropped off relief supplies like tarps and rice at one location and was en route to the second one when it lost communication, officials said.
There were no "mayday" calls or emergency beacons set off. A Nepalese aircraft reported seeing the Huey on the ground but search crews have been unable to locate it in the dark.
A Pentagon spokesperson told NBC News that military leaders are hopeful the helicopter has landed safely and is out of communication.
The aircraft is part of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 which is part of the 3rd Marine Air Wing based at Camp Pendleton.
The crew aboard the missing helicopter includes two Nepalese soldiers and six U.S. Marines, officials said.
Because the helicopter is currently attached to a different command, it’s not clear where the Marines are based, according to a spokesperson with U.S. Pacific Command.
Joint Task Force 505 (JTF 505) is helping with the search and rescue efforts. All air searches have been called off until daylight, but Nepalese Army soldiers are searching on foot, officials told NBC News.
JTF 505 and its approximately 300 U.S. military personnel are on the ground in Nepal to help with international relief efforts.
In a U.S. DOD news article, Pacom Thomas Frey said U.S. Marine Corps helicopters play a key role in getting out to remote locations and providing assistance that is not yet available through the normal humanitarian relief community.
"We’re using that capability as part of the overall unity of effort in Nepal,” Frey said.
Troops from the U.S. Army, Navy and the Air Force are also working with the JTF 505.
Just before 1 a.m. PT Tuesday, residents of Nepal were rattled by another strong earthquake and a series of aftershocks.
The magnitude-7.3 quake hit hardest in remote mountain districts northeast of the capital Kathmandu.
A medical team based out of San Diego was uninjured in Tuesday's quake and said they were on standby, waiting to help those who may be injured.