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Dec. 5, 2018 / 10:02 PM GMT / Updated 7:41 AM GMT
By Arata Yamamoto and Alex Johnson
TOKYO — Search operations continued Thursday for five missing U.S. Marines after a pair of planes carrying seven Marines collided about 200 miles off Japan in a refueling accident, U.S. and Japanese authorities said.
The planes, a KC-130 extended-range tanker carrying five crew members and an F/A-18 combat jet carrying two, “came in contact in the air” and crashed into the sea at around 1:42 a.m. Thursday (11:42 a.m. ET Wednesday), said Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary.
The Japanese Defense Ministry said Friday local time that the two other Marines had been rescued.
The Marines said one of them was taken back to base for treatment. There was no immediate information on the second rescued Marine.
The aircraft had launched from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, on a regularly scheduled training exercise, the Marines said. Suga said the Defense Ministry had asked the United States for more information.
The crash is the latest in recent series of accidents involving the U.S. military deployed to and near Japan.
Last month, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan crashed into the sea southwest of Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, though its two pilots were rescued safely. In mid-October, a MH-60 Seahawk also belonging to the Ronald Reagan crashed off the Philippine Sea shortly after takeoff, causing non-fatal injuries to a dozen sailors.
More than 50,000 U.S. troops are based in Japan under the bilateral security pact.
Arata Yamamoto reported from Tokyo. Alex Johnson reported from Los Angeles.
Doha Madani, Hans Nichols, Mosheh Gains and Associated Press contributed.