Three U.S. Marines were killed and 20 more injured when a military aircraft crashed Sunday during a training exercise in Australia.
The V-22 Osprey was transporting troops for a training operation alongside forces from Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor on the remote northern Melville Island.
The dead and wounded Marines have not been publicly identified. Five of the injured troops suffered serious wounds and were flown to the nearest major city, Darwin.
“Recovery efforts are ongoing,” read a U.S. military statement. “The cause of the incident is under investigation.”
There was a “significant fire in the vicinity of the crash site,” Australian news outlets reported. Melville Island is part of the sparsely populated, Indigenous-owned Tiwi Islands, which lie north of mainland Australia about 2,000 miles northwest of Sydney.
The U.S. maintains a military presence in Darwin, a city of 150,000, and about 150 Marines are based there at a time. The troops have been participating in a multinational training operation called Exercise Predators Run, which was paused after the crash.
Ospreys are specially designed aircraft that take off and land vertically like helicopters, but can tilt their rotors to fly like fixed-wing airplanes. They’re also notoriously unreliable.
Since 2012, 16 service members have been killed in five Osprey crashes across the world. Last year, five Marines were killed in a similar crash in the Southern California desert. The crash was caused by a mechanical failure related to a clutch.
“Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with the three U.S. service personnel who lost their lives, those who have been injured, the rest of the crew and indeed the entire United States armed forces,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.
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