TOKYO – Two American Marines were rescued from the ocean while another five remain missing after two United States military jets collided during maneuvers off the coast of Japan on Thursday, the US Marine Corps said.
“The United States Marine Corps confirms that two Marines have been found. One is in fair condition and the other is being transported to a local hospital for evaluation,” the Marine Corps said in a statement.
“The search and rescue operations continue for the remaining five US Marines,” it added.
The accident took place around 2 am about 320 kilometers (200 miles) off the coast of western Japan, when a FA-18 Hornet fighter jet and a KC-130 Hercules transport plane, which had taken off from the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, collided while “conducting routine training and aerial refueling,” according to the statement.
The circumstances surrounding the accident are being investigated, the Marine Corps added.
The US 7th Fleet is carrying out search and rescue efforts with assistance from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japanese Coast Guard.
The accident occurred two weeks after another FA-18 jet crashed southeast of Okinawa’s capital, Naha, after taking off from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, without any casualties.
Such incidents and other problems related to the presence of the US military in the Japanese archipelago have caused discontent among the local population, especially in Okinawa, where most of the US bases in the Asian country are located.