A United States Marine Corps aircraft, a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, crashed on Melville Island in northern Australia during a multinational training exercise killing three marines and injuring 20.
The injured Marines were flown to a hospital in Darwin for treatment. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.
“Recovery efforts are ongoing,” the US Marines said in a statement, adding the cause of the crash was under investigation.
A U.S. military official reported to Australian air traffic controllers a “significant fire in the vicinity of the crash site,” according to an audio recording of the conversation broadcast by Nine News television.
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One of the injured was undergoing surgery at the Royal Darwin Hospital, Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said around six hours after the crash, according to the Associated Press.
“We acknowledge that this is a terrible incident,” Fyles said. “The Northern Territory government stands by to offer whatever assistance is required.”
The crash occurred during Exercise Predators Run, a joint military exercise involving the United States, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and East Timor. The exercise includes various military activities on land, in the sea, and in the air.
The 12-day exercise is scheduled to end Sept. 7.
“The initial reports suggest that the incident involves just U.S. defense force personnel,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said. “Our focus as a government and as the department of defense is very much on incident response and on making sure that every support and assistance is given at this difficult time.”
The Osprey is a hybrid aircraft capable of taking off and landing like a helicopter while also cruising at higher speeds like an airplane.
Unfortunately, this is not the first crash involving the Osprey. Before this incident, there had been several fatal crashes involving Marine Ospreys since 2012, resulting in a number of deaths. The causes of these crashes have varied, including mechanical failures.
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The latest was in June 2022, when five Marines died in a fiery crash in a remote part of California east of San Diego.
A crash investigation report last month found that the tragedy was caused by a mechanical failure related to a clutch, according to the AP.
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