5 miss­ing af­ter two US planes crash off Japan

China Daily (USA) - - WORLD - By WANG XU in Tokyo [email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

Two US Marines were res­cued and an­other five were miss­ing af­ter a pair of mil­i­tary planes col­lided off the coast of Japan dur­ing a re­fu­el­ing ex­er­cise on Thurs­day, the US mil­i­tary said.

One of the res­cued crew mem­bers is in sta­ble con­di­tion while the health of the other was not im­me­di­ately known, Japan’s De­fense Min­istry said.

A Facebook post by the US III Marine Ex­pe­di­tionary Force said a KC-130 re­fu­el­ing tanker and an F/A-18 Hor­net fighter jet were in­volved in a “mishap” about 320 kilo­me­ters off Japan at 2 am.

“The cir­cum­stances of the mishap are cur­rently un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” it said.

The min­istry con­firmed the ac­ci­dent and said its mar­itime self-de­fense forces had res­cued one of the crew mem­bers.

“At 5:43 am, an SH-60 he­li­copter from No 24 batch of Air Self-De­fense Force res­cued a crew mem­ber of the F/A-18,” it said.

Ac­cord­ing to US Marines, the planes had taken off from Marine Corps Air Sta­tion Iwakuni and “were con­duct­ing reg­u­larly sched­uled train­ing when the mishap oc­curred”.

There were five crew mem­bers on the KC-130 and two on the F/A-18.

“US mil­i­tary and the Ja­panese Self-De­fense planes and ves­sels are search­ing for those still miss­ing . ... I hope all the mem­bers will be res­cued safely as soon as pos­si­ble,” said Takeshi Iwaya, Japan’s de­fense min­is­ter.

One of the res­cued Marines had been on the F/A-18 Hor­net fighter jet, and was in sta­ble con­di­tion at Marine Corps Air Sta­tion Iwakuni, Iwaya said.

Ac­cord­ing to the de­fense min­istry, a to­tal of nine he­li­copters, one sub­ma­rine res­cue ship and two train­ing ships had been dis­patched to join the res­cue work.

The US mil­i­tary has more than 50,000 troops sta­tioned in Japan, with more than 18,000 of them in the US Marine Corps, and ac­ci­dents hap­pen from time to time.

In Novem­ber, a US navy fighter jet crashed into the sea off the south­ern is­land of Ok­i­nawa and its two crew mem­bers ejected and were res­cued.

Last De­cem­ber, a win­dow fell from a US he­li­copter onto a school sports field in Ok­i­nawa and US Sec­re­tary of De­fense James Mat­tis even apol­o­gized to then-his coun­ter­part It­sunori On­odera af­ter sev­eral such in­ci­dents oc­curred.

Japan Times re­ported that the coun­try “has paid about $3.4 mil­lion over the past decade in com­pen­sa­tion as a re­sult of ac­ci­dents caused by US mil­i­tary per­son­nel or civil­ian em­ploy­ees un­der the US-Japan Sta­tus of Forces Agree­ment”.

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