Search for three missing Marines ended after aircraft crash off Australia

Rescuers have ended their search for three U.S. Marines who had been missing after an aircraft crashed into the sea off the east coast of Australia while trying to land.

In a statement late Saturday, the Marine base Camp Butler in Japan confirmed that “operations have now shifted to recovery efforts.”

The Marines’ next of kin had been notified, and Australia’s defense force was assisting the Americans with the recovery effort, the statement said.

The missing Marines were among 26 service members on board the MV-22 Osprey, which crashed at around 3 a.m. Sunday, local time. The other 23 service members were recovered safely.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. A White House official said President Donald Trump had been briefed by chief of staff John Kelly about the crash.

The Osprey had launched from the USS Bonhomme Richard and was conducting regularly scheduled operations when it crashed into the water, the statement said. The ship’s small boats and aircraft immediately responded in the search and rescue efforts.

The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands like a helicopter, but flies like an airplane. They have been involved in a series of high-profile crashes in recent years.

In 2015, a U.S. Osprey crashed during a training exercise in Hawaii, killing two Marines. Last December, a U.S. military Osprey crash-landed off Japan’s southern island of Okinawa. Its five crew members were rescued safely. And in January, three U.S. soldiers were wounded in the “hard landing” of an Osprey in Yemen.

The crash comes just weeks after a Marine Corps cargo plane spiraled out of the sky and into the Mississippi Delta, killing 15 Marines…

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