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5 American Marines Missing As 2 US Aircraft Collide Off Japan

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Search and rescue operations for five missing US marines are ongoing after two American aircraft with seven crew on board collided and crashed into the sea off Japan.

The United States Marine Corps confirms that two marines were rescued, and one of them was hospitalized for evaluation.

A statement from the Marine base in Okinawa said that two Marine aircraft, a KC-130 Hercules tanker and an F/A-18 Hornet jet, were involved in the accident about 200 miles off the coast of Japan around 2 a.m. local time Thursday.

US media reported that the mishap took place during a mid-air refueling exercise.

The aircraft were conducting routine training and aerial refueling was a part of the training, Marine Corps said in an update on social media.

"What was taking place when the mishap occurred is under investigation," it added.

"U.S. 7th Fleet is supporting ongoing search and rescue efforts with a Navy P-8A Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft flying out of Kadena Air Force Base, along with assistance from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japanese Coast Guard".

The aircraft had reportedly taken off from Iwakuni, in southern Japan, one of the biggest U.S. air bases in East Asia.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters that operations of commercial vessels were not affected by the accident.

This is the third crash of U.S. military aircraft in about two months, raising concerns within Japan about accidents involving the U.S. military.

Kyodo quoted Kazuhiro Suzuki, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's North American Affairs Bureau, as asking Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, top commander of the U.S. military forces in Japan, to investigate the cause of the accident and make all relevant information available quickly.

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