December 5, 2018 11:10 pm
Updated: December 6, 2018 1:49 pm

5 U.S. Marines missing after 2 warplanes crash into ocean off Japan

WATCH: Five Marines remain missing after officials say two warplanes crashed into the ocean off Japan. One of the Marines has since been confirmed dead as the search for the missing continues.

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A Marine refuelling plane and a fighter jet 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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The U.S. Marine Corps said that the 2 a.m. crash involved an F/A-18 fighter jet and a KC-130 refuelling aircraft during regular training after the planes took off from their base in Iwakuni, near Hiroshima in western Japan.

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The crash took place 320 kilometres off the coast. Japanese officials said it occurred closer to the coast, about 100 kilometres, and that’s where the search and rescue mission found two crew members.

The two aircraft were carrying seven crew members in total, two in the F/A-18 and five others in the KC-130, when they collided and crashed into the sea south of the Muroto Cape on Shikoku island in southwestern Japan. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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A Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel sails on the water at the area where two U.S. Marine Corps aircraft have been involved in a mishap in the skies, off the coast of Kochi prefecture, Japan, in this aerial view photo taken by Kyodo December 6, 2018.

Kyodo/via REUTERS

The Maritime Self-Defence Force, which dispatched aircraft and vessels to join in the search operation, said Japanese rescuers found one of the crew members in stable condition. The Marine Corps said the rescued crew was taken to a hospital at its base in Iwakuni and was being treated, but did not provide any other details.

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Details of the second crew, including his or her condition, were unknown immediately.

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

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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 the bilateral security pact.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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