Marines miss­ing in air col­li­sion off Ja­pan

Otago Daily Times - - WEEKEND WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON: One United States ma­rine was killed and res­cue teams were search­ing for five oth­ers miss­ing af­ter two Ma­rine Corps air­craft col­lided in mid­air and crashed into the sea off the coast of Ja­pan dur­ing a re­fu­elling ex­er­cise, of­fi­cials said yesterday.

Ja­panese and Amer­i­can of­fi­cials said they had so far found two of the seven Marines who had been aboard the air­craft, an F/A­18 Hor­net fighter jet and a KC­130 Her­cules.

‘‘One of the re­cov­ered marines is in fair con­di­tion and the other has been de­clared de­ceased by com­pe­tent med­i­cal per­son­nel,’’ a US Ma­rine Corps state­ment said.

The deadly crash is the lat­est in a string of US mil­i­tary avi­a­tion ac­ci­dents around the world in re­cent years, which have prompted hear­ings and crit­i­cism in Congress over air­craft safety.

‘‘The air­craft were con­duct­ing rou­tine train­ing and aerial re­fu­elling was a part of the train­ing,’’ the Ma­rine Corps said.

The in­ci­dent oc­curred in the dark early on Wed­nes­day morn­ing about 320km off the Ja­panese coast.

A US Navy P­8A patrol and sur­veil­lance air­craft was help­ing in search and res­cue ef­forts along with Ja­panese au­thor­i­ties.

US Con­gres­sional lead­ers have called the rash of ac­ci­dents a cri­sis and blamed it on con­tin­u­ous com­bat op­er­a­tions, de­ferred mod­erni­sa­tion, lack of train­ing and ageing equip­ment.

US mil­i­tary ac­ci­dents are a sen­si­tive topic in Ja­pan, par­tic­u­larly for res­i­dents of Ok­i­nawa, home to the bulk of the US pres­ence in the coun­try. A se­ries of emer­gency land­ings and parts fall­ing from US mil­i­tary air­craft have high­lighted safety con­cerns. — Reuters

PHOTO: REUTERS

Del­i­cate ma­noeu­vre . . . A United States Air Force KC­130 Her­cules pre­pares to re­fuel an­other air­craft dur­ing air re­fu­elling train­ing.

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