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U.S. Osprey Crash Off Japan Leaves at Least One Dead

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A U.S. military Osprey carrying six people crashed into the ocean off southern Japan on Wednesday, with at least one of the crew members confirmed dead by the local coast guard.

Rescue aircraft and patrol boats were dispatched to the crash site near the small island of Yakushima. The status of the five other crew members and the cause of the crash were not immediately known, a coast guard spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that it was initially thought that the aircraft—a hybrid vehicle that takes off and lands like a helicopter but can reposition its propellers to cruise like an airplane—was carrying eight people. The U.S. military later revised the figure to six. The CV-22 Osprey was operated by the U.S. Air Force.

Coast guard rescuers were dispatched to the scene after receiving an emergency call from a fishing boat. The search teams located one person who was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. The spokesperson also said debris suspected to be from the Osprey and an empty inflatable life raft were located.

Hiroyuki Miyazawa, Japan’s deputy defense minister, said the Osprey had made an “emergency water landing.” The Kyodo News Agency quoted officials in Kagoshima Prefecture—in which Yakushima is located—as saying witnesses reported seeing the Osprey’s left engine in flames.

Both Japanese and U.S. officials confirmed that the aircraft belonged to Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo, according to the Associated Press. U.S. Air Force officials at Yokota did not immediately comment on the crash, saying they are still working to confirm information about the incident.

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The fatal crash Wednesday comes three months after three U.S. Marines were killed in another Osprey accident in a training exercise in Australia. At least five others were critically injured during the August incident—the fifth lethal Marine Osprey crash since 2012.

Another U.S. Marine Osprey crashed in water off the coast of Okinawa in Japan in December 2016. The incident led to a temporary U.S. military grounding of the aircraft at the time.

On Wednesday, Okinawa Prefecture Governor Denny Tamaki told reporters he would ask the U.S. military to once again suspend all Osprey flights in Japan.

Source: The Daily Beast

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