TOKYO – Eight of the 11 sailors, on board a United States navy plane, which crashed on Wednesday in waters southeast of Japan, have been rescued alive, the Japanese government said.
Rescue operations are being conducted jointly by the US military and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said, adding that he hoped the remaining three people would be rescued soon, reported state broadcaster NHK.
According to the US military, the crash, which took place around 150 kilometers to the northeast of the Okinotori islands, might have been caused by a problem in the engine, Onodera added.
The C-2 Greyhound plane was heading toward the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan stationed in the Philippine Sea, when it crashed at 2.45 pm local time on Wednesday, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet had said in a statement earlier.
“Personnel recovery is underway and their condition will be evaluated by USS Ronald Reagan medical staff,” the statement had said, adding that the US navy USS Ronald Reagan strike group will be leading the rescue efforts.
Last week, USS Ronald Reagan, along with two other US aircraft carriers had participated in joint drills with the naval forces of South Korea and Japan, amid escalating tension in the region owing to North Korea’s repeated weapons tests.
In the past few months, increased US military activity in the region has led to many accidents.
In August, the USS John S McCain had collided with an oil tanker near Singapore, killing 10, and injuring 5.
In May, the USS Lake Champlain had collided with a South Korean fishing boat.