Five miss­ing af­ter two US mil­i­tary planes crash off Japan

Global Times - - WORLD -

Res­cue op­er­a­tions were un­der­way Thurs­day for five US marines miss­ing af­ter two US mil­i­tary air­craft crashed dur­ing a re­fu­elling op­er­a­tion off the coast of Japan, the Ja­panese de­fense min­is­ter said.

One crew mem­ber has al­ready been res­cued and is thought to be in a stable con­di­tion, Takeshi Iwaya told re­porters.

A spokesman for the Japan SelfDe­fense Forces (SDF) said an­other crew mem­ber had been found but there were no im­me­di­ate de­tails of the ma­rine’s con­di­tion. “The ma­rine is be­ing trans­ported to a lo­cal hos­pi­tal for eval­u­a­tion,” the US mil­i­tary said in a state­ment.

“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,” Iwaya added.

The marines were con­duct­ing “reg­u­larly sched­uled train­ing” when the crash oc­curred around 2:00 am lo­cal time, the third Ma­rine Ex­pe­di­tionary Force said in a state­ment.

The F/A-18 fighter jet with two crew on­board and a KC-130 re­fu­elling tanker with five crew crashed into the sea around 100 kilo­me­ters off the cape of Muroto in south­west­ern Japan, Iwaya said.

Japan’s SDF had de­ployed nine air­craft and three ves­sels for the search, he said.

“We are thank­ful for the Japan Mar­itime Self-De­fense Force’s ef­forts as they im­me­di­ately re­sponded in the search and res­cue op­er­a­tion,” the Marines said.

A spokesper­son for the Ja­panese coast guard said six ves­sels and an air­craft had been dis­patched sep­a­rately to as­sist in the res­cue ef­forts.

There are few de­tails about the cir­cum­stances of what the ma­rine de­scribed as a “mishap” and an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der­way.

Pub­lic broad­caster NHK sent a he­li­copter to try to find the crash site but was un­able to lo­cate it due to heavy fog and rain.

Dur­ing a nor­mal KC-130 re­fu­elling op­er­a­tion, the tanker air­craft trails a hose from the back of the plane with a so-called “drogue,” shaped a bit like a wind­sock, at the end.

Photo: AFP

A Ja­panese Coast Guard pa­trol ves­sel searches wa­ters where two US Ma­rine Corps air­craft crashed dur­ing midair re­fu­el­ing off the coast of Kochi pre­fec­ture, Japan on Thurs­day.

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