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5 Marines missing, 1 dead after fighter jet and refueling tanker collide off Japanese coast

Two U.S. Navy F/A-18C Hornets assigned Strike Fighter Squadron One Five One (VFA-151) conducts aerial refueling with an USMC KC-130 over Oregon during exercise Sentry Eagle 2005. (Tech. Sgt. Jerry Morrison/U.S. Air Force)
December 05, 2018

This is a breaking story. Please check back for updates.

UPDATE, Dec. 6, 9:30 a.m. EST – A second U.S. Marine was rescued from the ocean after the fighter jet-refueling tanker collision on Wednesday, but later died, according to a CBS News report.

The first Marine who was rescued has been receiving medical treatment and is listed in “fair condition,” according to the U.S. Marine Corps.

Five other Marines remain unaccounted for. No details are known on the cause of the collision.

A refueling accident involving two U.S. Marine Corps aircraft has resulted in an urgent search and rescue mission.

A KC-130 tanker and an F/A-18 fighter jet collided in what the U.S. Marine Corps is calling a “mishap” early Thursday morning local time off the coast of Japan.

Seven personnel were involved in the collision. Two defense officials told CNN that five were aboard the KC-130 tanker, and two aboard the F/A-18.

“My heart goes out to the families and the colleagues of the Marines that were involved in this tragedy,” U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty said on Thursday. “They risk their lives every day to protect Japan and to protect this region, and sometimes they pay the greatest cost. So I want to emphasize this security alliance that we have is critical and it is moving forward in a very positive direction.”


One member has been rescued and is receiving medical treatment.

“The United States Marine Corps confirms one of the personnel involved in the mishap is being evaluated by competent medical authorities at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni,” the U.S. Marine Corps told American Military News via email.

“The search and rescue operations continue for the remaining six U.S. Marines who were aboard a KC-130 Hercules and an F/A-18 Hornet involved in a mishap about 200 miles off of the coast of Japan around 2:00 a.m. Dec. 6,” the Marine Corps continued.

“We are thankful for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s efforts as they immediately responded in the search and rescue operation,” the Marine Corps added.

The one rescued Marine was found alive by Japanese authorities at approximately 9 a.m. local time — some seven hours after the crash.

“We are still searching for six Marines,” Lt. Col. Kelly Frushour of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force told NBC News.

The aircraft were based at Marine Corps Base Camp Butler in Okinawa, Japan. They were engaged in a routine training mission with the refueling incident occurred, resulting in a collision from reasons not yet known.

The Japanese Defense Ministry said the aircraft crashed approximately 60 miles south of the Muroto cape on the Shikoku main island.

“The circumstances of the mishap are currently under investigation. There is no additional information available at this time,” the Marine Corps statement added.