Marines missing in air collision off Japan
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
Delicate manoeuvre . . . A United States Air Force KC130 Hercules prepares to refuel another aircraft during air refuelling training.