US military aircraft crashes off Japan

World

At least one person has died after a US military aircraft crashed off the coast of a Japanese island.

Six crew members were on board the Osprey aircraft when it crashed on Wednesday.

The Japanese coastguard said one crew member had been found – and was later pronounced dead – along with grey-coloured debris believed to be from the aircraft.

They were found at sea around half a mile off the eastern coast of Yakushima.

The cause of the crash and the status of the other people on the aircraft were not immediately known.

A Japan Coast Guard vessel and a helicopter conduct search and rescue operation at the site where a U.S. military aircraft MV-22 Osprey crashed into the sea off Yakushima Island, Kagoshima prefecture 
Pic:Kyodo /Reuters
Image:
The Japanese coastguard conduct a search and rescue operation. Pic: Kyodo/Reuters

Fishing boats in the area found three people in the surrounding waters, a representative of a local fisheries cooperative said. Their condition is unknown.

Another Osprey landed safely at the island’s airport on Wednesday, at around the time of the crash.

“The government will confirm information about the damage and place the highest priority on saving lives,” Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.

The Osprey is a hybrid aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter, but during flight can rotate its propellers forward and cruise much faster like an aeroplane.

A US CV-22 Osprey takes off from Iwakuni base, western Japan, on 4 July, 2018. Pic: AP
Image:
A US Osprey aircraft taking off in Japan in 2018. Pic: AP

US and Japanese officials said the aircraft belonged to Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo.

In Okinawa, where about half of the 50,000 American troops in Japan are based, Governor Denny Tamaki told reporters he will ask the US military to suspend all Osprey flights in Japan.

In August, a US Osprey crashed off the coast of northern Australia, killing three Marines and seriously injuring five others.

Another crash-landed in the ocean off Japan’s southern island of Okinawa in December 2016, prompting a temporary US military grounding of the aircraft.

It also comes after five US service members were killed after their aircraft suffered a “mishap” during a routine air refuelling mission in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

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