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Five U.S. Marines Missing in Aircraft Accident Off Japan

Category: Asia,World

HONG KONG — Five United States Marines were missing and two have been found after two aircraft crashed off the coast of Japan early Thursday, the Marine Corps and the Japanese military said.

The crash is the latest in a growing number of American military aircraft accidents in recent years and follows increased scrutiny of operations in Asia, where American warships were involved in two deadly collisions in 2017.

In a statement from the Marine base in Okinawa, officials said that two Marine aircraft, a KC-130 Hercules and an F/A-18 Hornet, were involved in the accident about 200 miles off the coast of Japan around 2 a.m.

The aircraft had taken off from a base at Iwakuni, in southern Japan, and were “conducting regularly scheduled training when the mishap occurred,” the statement said. It provided few details, saying only that the circumstances were under investigation.

A person who was rescued Thursday morning was evaluated by medical personnel, the statement said, and Japanese aircraft had joined the search for the Marines who remained missing.

The Marine Corps said Thursday afternoon that a second person had been found. That person was being sent to a hospital for evaluation.

Japan’s Self-Defence Forces said the KC-130, a turboprop airplane capable of aerial refueling, and the F/A-18 Hornet, a combat jet, collided and crashed.

The KC-130 had five crew members and the F/A-18 Hornet had two, the Japanese military said.

A report by the Military Times in April found that the accident rate for American military warplanes had climbed by nearly 40 percent over the past five years. Among the Marine Corps and the Navy’s F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets the rate had doubled, the newspaper said.

An older model Marine Corps KC-130 crashed last year in Mississippi, killing 16 service members. A report issued by the Marine Corps found that a corroded propeller caused the crash, and cited “negligent practices” at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex and insufficient oversight by the Navy, the Military Times said.

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