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Five US Marines Declared Dead After Planes Collide Near Japan

The five Marines were among seven crew aboard two aircraft -- a jet and a refueling plane -- that collided Thursday

WASHINGTON -- Five US Marines who were missing after two aircraft collided mid-air off the coast of Japan on Thursday morning have been declared dead.

The Pentagon called off the search for the Marines on Tuesday, according to a statement from the Marine Expeditionary Force.

"The Marine Corps has pronounced the five remaining Marines involved in the F/A-18 and KC-130 aviation mishap deceased," the Marine Corps said in a statement. "The change in status comes at the conclusion of search and rescue operations."

The identities of the Marines have not been released.

"Every possible effort was made to recover our crew, and I hope the families of these selfless Americans will find comfort in the incredible efforts made by the US, Japanese, and Australian forces during the search," Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, commander of the III Marine Expeditionary Force, said in the statement.

US, Japanese and Australian forces conducted more than 800 hours of air and maritime search operations, covering more than 35,000 square miles of ocean, US Forces Japan said in a statement.

The five Marines were among seven crew aboard two aircraft -- a KC-130 and F/A-18 -- that collided Thursday about 200 miles off the coast of Japan. The planes had launched from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, the Marine Corps said in a statement.

The death toll from the accident now stands at six. Two Marines were rescued following the crash. One of them, Capt. Jahmar F. Resilard, 28, later died, the Marine Corps said.

The Marine Corps initially said the accident occurred during an aerial refueling that was part of routine training, but on Tuesday said it is "not confirmed" that refueling was ongoing when the collision occurred. The primary mission of a KC-130 is airborne refueling.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The two planes belonged to the US Marine Corps, assigned to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

(Photo By U.S. Navy/Getty Images)

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