Tokyo: Authorities are hunting for six missing US Marines after two US fighter jets were involved in a mid-air collision off the coast of Japan.
The cause of the crash on Thursday morning local time involving two US Marine Corps aircraft is still unexplained. Japan’s defence ministry said they had recovered one of the seven Marines onboard the two jets. It’s believed the crash may have happened during a refuelling exercise gone wrong, US officials said.
US authorities said the collision took place around 200 miles (332km) off the Japanese coast. The aircraft, a KC-130 Hercules refuelling craft and an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet, had launched from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, around 700km (430 miles) west of Tokyo. They were conducting regular training when there was a “mishap”, the Marine Corps said.
A search and rescue operation is ongoing, US and Japanese officials said. Japan has scrambled four aircraft and three ships in the hunt for the crew members. The Marine Corps said Japanese search and rescue aircraft had taken the lead in the rescue mission.
It said: “We are thankful for the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force’s efforts as they immediately responded in the search and rescue operation. “The circumstances of the mishap are currently under investigation.” It is believed five Marines were onboard the KC-130 while two were in the F/A-18.