US Navy aircraft crash: 8 rescued off Japanese coast

Tokyo: Eight persons have been rescued after a US Navy aircraft carrying 11 people aboard crashed off the coast of Japan on Wednesday, the Japanese Defence Ministry said.

Rescue operations were being conducted jointly by the US military and the Japanese Self-Defence Forces. Preliminary US military reports indicated that engine failure may have caused the crash.

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said that he hoped the remaining three people would be rescued soon, reported state broadcaster NHK.

The C-2 Greyhound plane was heading towards the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan stationed in the Philippines Sea, when it crashed at 2.45 p.m. local time on Wednesday, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement earlier.

“Personnel recovery is underway and their condition will be evaluated by USS Ronald Reagan medical staff,” the statement had said, adding that the US navy USS Ronald Reagan strike group will be leading the rescue efforts.

More than 60 different types of planes and helicopters operate from the USS Ronald Reagan, according to the carrier group’s website, including fighters, early warning aircraft, electronic attack planes, transports planes and multi-purpose helicopters.

The US military is strongly deployed in the western Pacific, with tens of thousands of troops and billions of dollars’ worth of hardware in the region.

The Ronald Reagan is one of three US aircraft carriers operating in the region alongside Japanese and South Korean warships as tensions rise between the US and North Korea.

The 7th Fleet has had two fatal accidents in Asian waters earlier this year, leaving 17 sailors dead and prompting the removal of eight top Navy officers from their posts, including the 7th Fleet commander.

The USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided near Singapore in August, leaving 10 US sailors dead. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided off Japan.

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