Five marines miss­ing af­ter 2 US mil­i­tary air­craft crash off Japan

Millennium Post - - Mp World -

TOKYO: Res­cue oper­a­tions were un­der­way Thurs­day for five US marines miss­ing af­ter two Amer­i­can mil­i­tary air­craft crashed dur­ing a re­fu­elling oper­a­tion off the coast of Japan, the Ja­panese de­fence 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 Self-de­fense 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 3rd 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 kilo­me­tres off the cape of Muroto in south­west­ern Japan, Iwaya said.

The crew mem­ber res­cued had been in the fighter jet, the min­is­ter con­firmed.

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 spokesman for the Ja­panese coast­guard 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 Marines 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 so­called “drogue”, shaped a bit like a wind­sock, at the end.

The fighter jet then in­serts a probe in­side the drogue to re­ceive fuel, which it can do at a rate of up to 300 gal­lons per minute, ac­cord­ing to glob­alse­cu­rity.org.

The US mil­i­tary has about 50,000 troops sta­tioned in Japan and ac­ci­dents are not un­com­mon.

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

And in Novem­ber 2017, a C-2A “Grey­hound” air­craft with 11 peo­ple on board went down in the Philip­pine Sea -- eight were res­cued and the search was called off for the re­main­ing three af­ter a two­day search.

PTI

In this ae­rial photo, Japan’s Coast Guard ship is seen at sea dur­ing a search oper­a­tion

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