One dead, five miss­ing after Marine jet midair col­li­sion

The Olympian - - News - BY MARI YA­M­AGUCHI As­so­ci­ated Press

One of two crew mem­bers re­cov­ered after two U.S. war­planes col­lided and crashed off Japan’s coast early Thurs­day is dead and five oth­ers re­main miss­ing, the U.S. mil­i­tary said.

The Marine Corps said the other re­cov­ered crew mem­ber was in fair con­di­tion.

It said an F/A-18 Hor­net fighter jet and a KC-130 Her­cules re­fu­el­ing air­craft col­lided dur­ing train­ing at about 2 a.m. after tak­ing off from their base in Iwakuni, near Hiroshima. The seven crew mem­bers in­cluded two in the F/A-18 and five in the KC-130.

The Marines said in a state­ment that the two planes were in­volved in rou­tine train­ing, in­clud­ing ae­rial re­fu­el­ing, but that it was still in­ves­ti­gat­ing what was hap­pen­ing when the ac­ci­dent oc­curred.

The crash took place 200 miles off the coast, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. mil­i­tary. Ja­panese of­fi­cials said it oc­curred closer to the coast, about 60 miles, and that’s where the search and res­cue mis­sion found the two crew mem­bers.

Japan’s Mar­itime SelfDe­fense Force, which dis­patched air­craft and ves­sels to join in the search oper­a­tion, said Ja­panese res­cuers found one of the crew from the fighter jet in stable con­di­tion. The Marines said the crew mem­ber was taken to a hos­pi­tal on the base in Iwakuni and was in fair con­di­tion, but did not pro­vide any other de­tails.

Japan’s coast guard also joined the search.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald tweeted on Thurs­day that his thoughts and prayers are with the Marine Corps crew mem­bers in­volved in the col­li­sion. He thanked the U.S. Forces in Japan for their “im­me­di­ate re­sponse and res­cue ef­forts” and said “What­ever you need, we are here for you.”

The crash is the lat­est in re­cent se­ries of ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing the U.S. mil­i­tary de­ployed to and near Japan.

Last month, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hor­net from the air­craft car­rier USS Ron­ald Rea­gan crashed into the sea south­west of Japan’s south­ern is­land of Ok­i­nawa, though its two pi­lots were res­cued safely. In mid-Oc­to­ber, a MH-60 Sea­hawk also be­long­ing to the Ron­ald Rea­gan crashed off the Philip­pine Sea shortly after take­off, caus­ing non-fa­tal in­juries to a dozen sailors.

More than 50,000 U.S. troops are based in Japan un­der a bi­lat­eral se­cu­rity pact.

AP

In this ae­rial photo, a Ja­panese Coast Guard ship con­ducts a search-and-res­cue oper­a­tion Thurs­day for miss­ing crew mem­bers of the U.S. Marine re­fu­el­ing plane and fighter jet off Muroto, south­west­ern Japan.

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