TOKYO – Six members of the US Navy are missing after two military aircraft collided off the west coast of Japan, the US Armed Forces deployed in the Asian country reported on Thursday.
One of the seven crew members involved in the accident has been rescued and “is being evaluated by the competent authorities” at the Japanese air base in Iwakuni, while “search and rescue operations continue for the remaining six marines,” the US Marine Corps Base Camp Butler reported on social networks.
The collision occurred around 2:00 am local time (1700 GMT Wednesday) between an FA-18 fighter jet and a KC-130 tanker plane which came from the Iwakuni airfield and were “conducting regularly scheduled training when the mishap occurred,” the statement says.
“The circumstances of the mishap are currently under investigation. There is no additional information available at this time,” the statement concludes.
The Japanese Minister of Defense, Takeshi Iwaya, told local media that the rescued Marine is one of the two crew members who were traveling aboard the fighter jet and that his state of health “is stable.”
Japan has sent several aircraft and three ships to help with the search and rescue efforts, said Iwaya.
The Japanese Minister of Defense described the event as “regrettable,” but stressed that their “focus at the moment is on search and rescue.”
Thursday’s accident comes two weeks after another US FA-18 fighter jet crashed into the sea off Naha, the capital of Okinawa Prefecture, in the southwest of the country, after taking off from the USS Ronald Reagan nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, but there were no casualties.