US military Osprey plane crashes off coast of Japan with 8 aboard; Officials say at least 1 person has died

A U.S. military Osprey aircraft crashed into the sea near the small southern Japanese island of Yakushima on Wednesday, killing at least one crew member with eight people on board, a U.S. defense official confirmed to CBS News. A Japanese Coast Guard official told CBS News that one crew member had been recovered dead and that the search for the others from the Osprey was continuing into the night.

Two helicopters and six boats were involved in the search, the official told CBS News. The US Air Force Special Operations Command said in a statement that the Osprey was conducting a routine training mission.

Coast Guard spokesman Kazuo Ogawa was previously quoted by the Agence France-Presse news agency as saying an emergency call came from a fishing boat to report the accident. He said there were eight people aboard the Osprey, which the Coast Guard later changed to six before a US defense official said eight airmen were on board.

Wreckage from a U.S. Air Force Osprey that crashed into the sea off Japan’s Yakushima island is seen in this Nov. 29, 2023, handout photo provided by Japan’s Coast Guard.

Manual via Japan Coast Guard/Reuters


Japan’s national broadcaster NHK showed a helicopter from a coast guard ship seeing a bright orange inflatable life raft in the water, but no one was aboard.

NHK said an eyewitness reported the plane’s left engine burst into flames before it touched down off the east coast of Yakushima, about 600 miles southwest of Tokyo.

The Kagoshima regional government later said the Osprey was flying with another aircraft of the same type, which landed safely on Yakushima Island.

A Japan Coast Guard ship and helicopter conduct search and rescue operations at the site of a U.S. military MV-22 Osprey aircraft that went down in the sea off Yakushima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture, southwest Japan, Nov. 29, 2023. Kyoto.

Kyoto via REUTERS


Japan’s Kyodo News, citing coast guard officials, said the first emergency call came in around 2:45 p.m. local time (12:45 a.m. Eastern), and the Japanese defense ministry said the Osprey lowered its radar screens five minutes earlier.

An Osprey can land vertically like a helicopter, but can change the angle of its twin rotors and fly as a turboprop aircraft.

A U.S. Air Force Bell Boeing V22 Osprey flies in front of the air traffic control tower at Yokota Air Base during the 47th Japan-U.S. Friendship Ceremony in Fusa, Japan, May 20, 2023.

Damon Coulter/Sofa Images/Lightrocket/Getty


Japanese government Approved last year A new $8.6 billion, five-year host-nation support budget will cover the cost of maintaining U.S. troops in the country, reflecting coordination between the two countries’ forces and a focus on joint response and deterrence amid growing threats from China. , North Korea And Russia.

The stricken Osprey was assigned to Yokota Air Force Base outside Tokyo, Air Force Special Operations Command said. NHK reported that the flight took off from the small US airport in Iwakuni on Wednesday to fly to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, which is in the same island chain as the small island of Yakushima. This small island lies south of Kakushima Prefecture on Japan’s main southern island of Kyushu.

Getty/iStockPhoto


The US Army’s Kadena Air Base is the most important and largest US base in the region.

There have been several U.S. Osprey accidents in recent years, most recently when a plane went down during an international exercise on an Australian island in August. Three US Marines were killed Eight others have been hospitalized. Five US Marines aboard another Osprey died the previous summer When the plane crashed in the California desert.

An Osprey crashed in shallow waters off the Japanese island of Okinawa in 2016, but all US Marines on board survived the incident.

CBS News’ Elizabeth Palmer and Lucy Kraft in Tokyo and Eleanor Watson at the Pentagon contributed to this report.

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