1 dead and 5 missing after 2 U.S. warplanes crash off Japan
  • Monday, December 17, 2018
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1 dead and 5 missing after 2 U.S. warplanes crash off Japan

  • Five U.S. Marines are missing following a still-unexplained mishap off the coast of Japan on Thursday involving two Marine Corps aircraft, which may have collided mid-air during a refueling exercise gone wrong, U.S. officials said.
    Video by Reuters
  • KYODO NEWS VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

    This March 2018, photo shows an F/A-18 jet at the United States Marine Corps air station in Iwakuni, western Japan. Two American warplanes crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Japan’s southwestern coast after a midair collision early Thursday, and rescuers found one of the seven crew members in stable condition while searching for the others, officials said.

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TOKYO >> One of two crew members recovered after two U.S. warplanes collided and crashed off Japan’s coast early today is dead and five others remain missing, the U.S. military said.

The Marine Corps said the other recovered crew member was in fair condition.

Both were in an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet that collided with a KC-130 Hercules refueling aircraft collided during training at about 2 a.m. after taking off from their base in Iwakuni, near Hiroshima. The five others were in the KC-130.

The Marines said in a statement that the two planes were involved in routine training, including aerial refueling, but that it was still investigating what caused the crash.

President Donald Trump tweeted that his thoughts and prayers are with the Marine Corps crew members involved in the collision. He thanked the U.S. Forces in Japan for their “immediate response and rescue efforts” and said “Whatever you need, we are here for you.”

The crash took place 320 kilometers (200 miles) off the coast, according to the U.S. military. Japanese officials said it occurred closer to the coast, about 100 kilometers (60 miles), and that’s where the search and rescue mission found the two crew members.

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, which dispatched aircraft and vessels to join in the search operation, said Japanese rescuers found one of the crew from the fighter jet in stable condition. The Marines said the crew member was taken to a hospital on the base in Iwakuni and was in fair condition, but did not provide any other details.

Japan’s coast guard also joined the search.

The crash is the latest in recent series of accidents involving the U.S. military deployed to and near Japan.

Last month, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan crashed into the sea southwest of Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, though its two pilots were rescued safely. In mid-October, a MH-60 Seahawk also belonging to the Ronald Reagan crashed off the Philippine Sea shortly after takeoff, causing non-fatal injuries to a dozen sailors.

More than 50,000 U.S. troops are based in Japan under a bilateral security pact.

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