By Ross Adkin
KATHMANDU (Reuters) - The bodies of eight soldiers have been recovered from the wreckage of a U.S. military helicopter lost on an earthquake relief mission in Nepal high on a mountainside, Nepali officials said on Saturday.
The remains would soon be transferred to Kathmandu, Jagadish Pokharel, a spokesman for the Nepali army said.
Six U.S. marines and two Nepali soldiers were on the helicopter when it went missing while distributing aid on Tuesday, the day a strong aftershock hit Nepal.
The crew had been heard over the radio saying the aircraft was experiencing a fuel problem.
"Together we mourn as our nation and the Federal Republic of Nepal have lost eight courageous men," said Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families."
The helicopter was assisting with relief operations in the Himalayan state after it was hit by a big earthquake last month that killed more than 8,000 people, while hundreds of thousands of buildings have been damaged.The Huey, a helicopter dating back to the Vietnam War era, was completely destroyed, Nepal's top defense ministry official said.
After a three-day search crash debris was found 8 miles (13 km) north of the town of Charikot near dense forest and rugged terrain at an altitude of 11,200 ft (3,400 m).
(Editing By Andrew MacAskill)