KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- A United Nations helicopter caught fire and crashed Monday in a mountainous region in eastern Nepal, killing at least 10 of the 12 people on board, according to Nepal's home ministry.
The status of the remaining two passengers is not clear; local citizens aiding in the rescue effort believe no one survived the crash.
Ministry spokesman Mod Raj Dotel said five of the 12 on board were Nepal citizens. It is unclear how many of the confirmed victims were Nepali.
He said the helicopter crashed near Bhawasa, about 145 kilometers (90 miles) east of Kathmandu.
The U.N. Mission in Nepal said it lost contact with the helicopter about 4 p.m. (1030 GMT). In a written statement, UNMIN confirmed "there were fatalities," and said it would have more details once its team arrived at the crash site.
UNMIN spokesman Kieran Dwyer said the helicopter was carrying U.N. staff from several countries, and their identities will be released Tuesday after their families have been contacted.
The helicopter was flying to Kathmandu from the a Maoist cantonment in Sindhuli, about 200 km east of the capital, Dwyer said.
It is one of seven cantonments across Nepal where UNMIN is monitoring the arms and armies of the former Maoist rebels, who signed a peace deal with the government more than a year ago.
There are 186 arms monitors from 41 countries working with the U.N. Mission in Nepal.
The United Nations is also helping monitor Nepal's elections, scheduled for April 10, which will decide what happens to the nearly 20,000 rebel fighters being monitored by the world organization. E-mail to a friend
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