Washington: The Japanese Defense Minister revealed Rescue operations were underway on Thursday for five US marines missing after two American military aircraft crashed during a refuelling operation off the coast of Japan.

Takeshi Iwaya said that one crew has already been rescued and is thought to be in a stable condition. Iwaya added “ US military and the Japanese Self-Defence planes and vessels are searching for those still missing. As soon as possible I hope all the members will be rescued safely”

Another crew member had been found but there were no immediate details of the marine’s condition said A spokesperson for the Japanese Self-Defence (SDF).

The 3rd marine Marine Expeditionary Force said that the marines were conducting regularly scheduled training when the crash occurred around 2 am local time.  

Iwaya added in a statement “ The F/A-18 fighter jet with two crew onboard a KC-130 refuelling tanker with five crew crashed into the sea around 100 kilometres (55 nautical miles) off the cape of Muroto in southwestern Japan”

The minister confirmed that the crew member rescued had been in the fighter jet.

The Marines said utterly that “ Nine aircraft had deployed by Japan SDF and for the search three vessels. We are thankful for the Maritime Self- Defence Force efforts as they immediately responded in the search and rescue operation”

Japanese Coastguard spokesman said: “Six vessels and an aircraft had been dispatched separately to assist in the rescue efforts,”. It later added that there are few details about the circumstances of what the Marines described as a mishap and an investigation is underway.

It was said that the US military has experienced difficulties with its Osprey helicopters, with several emergency landings, a deadly crash and a piece of the Chopper falling on the grounds of a Japanese School. Incidents like this have stoked tensions between close military allies Washington and Tokyo and led to protests against the deployment of Ospreys by residents living near US bases.

The incident was regrettable but at this point, we are doing our utmost to rescue those still missing. If we get to know the details of the accident, we will take appropriate measures” said Iwaya.

Mayor Of Iwakuni Yoshihiko Fukuda, said that hosts the US base where the two aircraft were based. He asked the military to halt operation until the case of the accident became clear. He further added “ I will urge the government and the US military to take thorough measures in finding out the cause of the accident and preventing a repeat”

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