A family member who first notified a television station that his brother was on the helicopter that went missing while aiding earthquake relief operations in Nepal now say the Camp Pendleton-based Marine has notified them he was never on the aircraft.
The brother of Sgt. James Hibler, a crew chief from Arlington, Texas, first spoke with NBC DFW Tuesday night, hours after the media reported a UH-1Y Huey was reported missing by military officials.
On Wednesday morning, Jonathan Hibler said he had heard from his brother via Facebook.
"He sent a message on Facebook a short time ago letting us know that he was never on the helicopter that went missing but to keep his friends in thought and prayer while they try to find the helicopter," Jonathan told NBC 7 via email.
Six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers are on the UH-1Y Huey that was last heard from while on a mission to deliver supplies to remote villages.
Eric Seaman, a Murrieta Marine, was also on the copter, according to KNBC in Los Angeles.
The helicopter was helping with disaster relief near Charikot -- one of the villages hardest hit by Tuesday's magnitude 7.3 earthquake -- when it lost communication at about 9 a.m. PT. No distress call went out.
Officials say a fuel problem may have contributed to the copter's problems. A Pentagon spokesperson told NBC News that military leaders are hopeful the helicopter has landed safely and is out of communication.
A U.S. defense official told NBC News that the Marines have a GPS device, a radio, a satellite phone and an emergency beacon, though the difficult terrain may render their equipment ineffective.
The UH-1Y Huey is part of a Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469, which is part of the 3rd Marine Air Wing based at Camp Pendleton. It's not clear where Marines on the helicopter are based because they are currently attached to a different command.
Joint Task Force 505 is aiding search and rescue efforts, resuming operations when light broke Wednesday morning. Nepalese Army soldiers are searching for the missing crew on foot.