US Marines: Five missing after Japan crash declared dead

The U.S. Marine Corps has declared five Marines missing after an aviation mishap dead.

The five Marines were among seven crew aboard two aircraft - a KC-130 and F/A-18 - that collided Thursday at 1:42 a.m. local time about 200 miles (320 kilometers) off the coast of Japan.

In November, a USA navy fighter jet crashed into the sea off Japan's southern island of Okinawa and its two crew members were rescued alive.

"We know this hard decision was made after all resources were exhausted in the vigorous search for our Marines", Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell Maury, commander of the U.S. Marine Corps' (USMC) Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron, said in a statement.

All five Marines have been declared dead.

Both aircraft flew from the USMC's Iwakuni air station in Japan.

"All of us in the Sumo family are extremely saddened following the announcement of the conclusion of search and rescue operation", the squadron's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Mitchell T. Maury, said in the statement.

"Every possible effort was made to recover our crew and I hope the families of these selfless Americans will find comfort in the incredible efforts made by US, Japanese, and Australian forces during the search", he added.

Four hours after the mishap, one of the two pilots aboard the fighter jet was rescued by the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces.

"We know this hard decision was made after all resources were exhausted in the vigorous search for our Marines", said Lt. Col. Mitchell T. Maury, commanding officer of the squadron to which the KC-130 Hercules was assigned. One of them, Capt. Jahmar F. Resilard, 28, later died, the Marine Corps said.

Kyodo news reported that the airmen might have been taking part in a nighttime midair refuelling exercise - a hard manoeuvre used on long-range flights - when the collision occurred.

Other accidents involving the USA military include parts falling off aircraft into nearby neighborhoods.

The warplanes crashed into the sea south of Japan's Shikoku island. 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.

  • Jon Douglas