Updated Dec 6, 2018 2:28 AM EST
TOKYO — A Marine refueling plane and a fighter jet collided and crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Japan’s southwestern coast early Thursday and rescuers found two of the crew members involved, officials said. One was in stable condition, authorities said.
Search and rescue operations were continuing for five others.
The U.S. Marine Corps said the 2 a.m. crash involved an F/A-18 fighter jet and a KC-130 refueling aircraft during regular refueling training after they took off from their base in Iwakuni, near Hiroshima in western Japan.
The U.S. military said the crash occurred 200 miles off the coast. Japanese officials said it happened closer to land, about 60 miles out, and that’s where the Japanese search and rescue mission found two crew members.
There were two pilots in the F/A-18 and five crew members in the KC-130, officials said.
The crash’s cause was under investigation.
The Maritime Self-Defense Force, which dispatched aircraft and vessels to join in the search, said one of the fighter jet’s crew members was found and was in stable condition. The Marines said that person was taken to a hospital on the base in Iwakuni, but didn’t provide any other details.
There was no immediate word on the second crew member, including his or her condition.
The United States Marine Corps confirms that one additional Marine has been found. The Marine is being…
The crash was 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 the bilateral security pact.
The Reuters news agency noted that U.S. military accidents are a “sensitive” topic in Japan, especially in Okinawa, where most of the U.S. military personnel in Japan are based. “A series of emergency landings and parts falling from U.S. military aircraft have highlighted safety concerns,” Reuters said.
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